Federal Health Care:

Increased Information System Sharing Could Improve Service, Reduce Costs

IMTEC-93-33BR: Published: Jun 29, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO compared automated health information systems in use at the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS), focusing on: (1) functions common to the three systems; (2) the amount of information sharing between the three agencies; and (3) facilitators and barriers to information sharing.

GAO found that: (1) although the extent of information sharing between the three systems has been limited, the benefits from sharing have improved patient services, reduced costs, and increased health care facility use; (2) shared health-related information is not exchanged electronically and limited due to a lack of interagency cooperation; (3) factors that facilitate health information sharing include the agencies' common functions to deliver medical care, common overall goal to improve health care services within constrained resources, and the health information systems' technical structure; and (4) to facilitate additional sharing, DOD, VA, and IHS need to overcome organizational and technical barriers and standardize agency-specific, health care-related functions and their implementation.

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