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Providing readily accessible health information on veterans and active duty military personnel is highly essential to ensuring that these individuals are given quality health care and assistance in adjudicating disability claims. Moreover, ready access to health information is consistent with the President's recently announced intention to provide electronic health records for most Americans within 10 years. In an attempt to improve the sharing of health information, the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DOD) have been working, since 1998, toward the ability to exchange electronic health records for use by veterans, military personnel, and their health care providers. In testimony before Congress last November and again this past March, GAO discussed the progress being made by the departments in this endeavor. While a measure of success has been achieved--the one-way transfer of health data from DOD to VA health care facilities--identifying the technical solution for a two-way exchange, as part of a longer term HealthePeople (Federal) initiative, has proven elusive. At Congress's request, GAO reported on its continuing review of the departments' progress toward this goal of an electronic two-way exchange of patient health records.

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