Congressional Record Statement of Senator Daniel K. Akaka
Mr. President, last week the Senate passed a resolution designating May 14 to 18, 2007, as National Health Information Technology Week. In connection with this resolution, it is important to recognize the leadership and progress that the Department of Veterans Affairs has shown in the area of health information technology .
By passing this resolution, the Senate has recognized the tremendous importance of information technology in improving health care for all Americans. RAND Corporation has estimated that by improving health information technology and practices more than $81 billion can be saved annually in the United States.
Such savings are only one aspect of the promised impact of better health information technology. The other, more important aspect is that improved health information technology can help save lives by providing health care providers with more accurate and timely patient information .
As an increasing number of veterans return from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with complicated injuries, they must receive the quality care earned through their service. Information technology helps VA provide that care.
Over the past decade, VA has become a leader in the use of electronic health records. Through VA's veterans health information system and technology architecture, commonly referred to as VISTA, clinicians can access and update electronic health records throughout the Nation's largest health care system. Clinicians can also view medical images, such as x rays, pathology slides, and other critical records that can be placed immediately into a patient's record. In addition to their electronic records system, VA is reducing medication and prescription errors through a point-of-care system to verify that patients receive correct dosage at correct times, visually alerting staff when errors are made. For its development and employment of this system, VA was awarded the 2006 Innovations in Government Award, sponsored by Harvard University.
While VA's health care system is by no means perfect, its use of health information technology has improved the quality of care received by veterans, while reducing the costs to our taxpayers. I hope the Department will continue on their path of progress, and I commend VA for its work thus far.
May 21, 2007