|The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is urging
all veterans, especially those enrolled in VA's health care system, to
receive flu vaccinations. Walk-in clinics and drive-in clinics for the
vaccinations -- which are free for veterans enrolled in VA's health care
system -- are being held at many of VA's 153 hospitals and more than 900
outpatient clinics. Physicians recommend flu vaccinations for pregnant
women, people with chronic medical conditions, those at least 50 years of
age, patients in long-term care facilities, and individuals who live with
those at high risk for complications from flu. A recent study by Dr. Kristin
Nichol, chief of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, found
dramatic reductions in deaths and sickness for patients who had received a
flu shot. Vaccination reduced hospitalizations for pneumonia or influenza by
27 per cent, and cut back death rates by 48 per cent.
MANAGERS DAILY REPORT
VA and Defense continue to expand the sharing of medical information but after nearly a decade of trying, they still lack comprehensive medical records and have a long way to go, GAO has said before the House VA oversight subcommittee.
Subcommittee chair Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., said that while VA and DoD appear to have made more progress in the past 12 to 18 months than in the previous decade, "there is no reason why, in this day and age, DoD and VA cannot electronically share the information necessary to treat our service members and veterans," adding, "we should not have to wait any longer."
In the long-term, the systems are being designed to share standardized, readily useable data though an interface between data repositories.
According to GAO-08-207T, the repositories have been developed -- the departments have started populating them -- and the interface between the repositories has been implemented at seven VA and DoD sites, allowing, for example, computable outpatient pharmacy and drug allergy data to be exchanged.
GAO called the interface a milestone achievement, though it was quick to add much remains to be done.
For example, aside from extending the current capability throughout VA and DoD, the departments must still agree to standards for the remaining categories of medical information, populate the data repositories with this information, complete the development of the two modernized health information systems, and transition from their existing systems, the report said.
It said that in the near-term, the departments have been working to share information in their existing systems, and that they have completed an effort to allow the one-way transfer of health information
from DoD to VA when service members leave the military, as well as ongoing demonstration projects to exchange limited data at selected sites, one of which allows two-way data transfer.
VA and DoD are now expanding the sharing of additional medical information by using this interface to link other systems and databases, GAO said.
VA BUDGET EARNS HIGH
WASHINGTON—The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is commending
lawmakers for approving a conference report that will provide the largest
increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs in its history.
DAV now calls on Congress and the Administration to support this important
legislation and enact it by Veterans Day.
|Tricare now covers the vaccine, Zostavax, for beneficiaries age 60
and older. Zostavax was developed to prevent shingles, a painful viral
disease that affects more than one million Americans every year. More than
half of those cases happen in people age 60 or older. Shingles is caused by
the same varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox in children. It
remains in the body for decades, sleeping in nerve cells along the spinal
column. A shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and
lasts between two and four weeks. It can be accompanied by fever, headache,
chills and upset stomach. The Centers for Disease Control recommends a
single dose of shingles vaccine for everyone age 60 and older. In a recent
study, Zostavax was more than 50 percent effective in reducing the incidence
of shingles and more than 60 percent effective in reducing some of its