Make VA electronic medical record systems available to all physicians

LETTER — Posted Nov. 8, 2004

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Regarding "Should I buy my EMR now?" (Article, Oct. 11): I have been following the topic of EMR systems over the past year and am surprised that there has been no mention of the electronic medical record system used by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

I had the privilege to work at one of the VA Medical Centers for one year and the pleasure of using their EMR system.

As a former computer systems specialist, I have found the VA system to be comprehensive, well-designed and easy to maintain and support. If the U.S. government is going to be mandating the use of EMRs, and they already have a proven product, why not make this product available for free (or at the cost of materials and distribution) to the practitioners?

This would ensure equal access to software, consistent development of the software over time, a supplier that will not go out of business, and interoperability between the practitioners and the country's largest health care provider, the government itself.

Samuel L. Sharmat, MD, New York

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/11/08/edlt1108.htm.

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