The VA’s integrated health care system is a model of efficiency. It makes it much easier to stop mistakes from happening and much harder to miss required treatments. An integrated health care system aids medical care because:
- Electronic medical records aid in patient safety;
- Electronic medical records save money; and
- Electronic medical records aid medical professionals work more quickly.
The VA has been storing medical records online for more than 10 years and the benefits are apparent. Physicians are able to view anything about a patient’s medical history at any time including:
- X-Ray imaging;
- Blood work;
- Advanced Directives;
- Upcoming Tests and appointments; and
- Specialists’’ notes and lab results.
The VA’s record keeping system almost mirrors the one the Department of Defense utilizes for their active duty personnel and both organizations are working toward the day where the systems are able to compile one overall record for a soldier’s entire lifetime. Right now through, the VA has the better system.
Patients enjoy this system as well as they are able to just look at the screen and, for example, watch how their cholesterol or weight loss/gain has been tracking. The one downfall to the system, though, is over-attention to the computer screen as opposed to looking at the patient. The balance is a difficult one to achieve as all the information for the patient is on the screen.
The system also acts as a safety net by reminding doctors when critical tests, i.e., mammograms, come due and thereby fulfills its most central function: protecting patient safety.