GovernmentCIO: Balancing Challenges of Data Continuity and IT Modernization at VA

“The Veterans Health Administration’s initiatives around data integration and continuity of care require considerable investment in system connectivity and information-sharing capacity, and anyone looking to overhaul their systems should first take small steps in assessing their organizational priorities, according to the agency’s Deputy CTO Joseph Ronzio.”

“Noting the certain fundamental differences in the data-retention needs between private, for-profit firms and an agency of the VA’s scope and mission, ‘there is a major difference with responsibility in government,’ Ronzio said at a Govloop event last week. ‘Most businesses are concerned about quarterly returns, having data for a couple of years.’”

“By contrast, the VA has a requirement for 75 years of data retention after a medical encounter, he said.”

“The requirement to store massive quantities of customer data while applying these toward medical care and business lines spanning multiple VA departments provides a dual challenge, one centered on building infrastructure that sustains the functions of legacy systems while outfitting them to meet these newfound demands. This has yielded concerns around supporting antiquated systems.”

“’We have three very different operating systems going on massive extended support capability that we’ve typically paid for to keep that support going,” he said. “When you think of the future, how many years are we going to talk about extended support for other systems, databases, hardware — different systems are going to have different support options.’”

“Still, one of the driving motivators behind system modernization — record digitization and data continuity — is a process that Ronzio recognizes as essential to the VA’s mission…”

“Maintaining both data access and data integrity appears to be one of the VA’s greatest current obstacles, a technical quandary spurring questions around the value of maintaining legacy systems versus replacing them altogether…”

“Charting a cross-system modernization push that updates large swaths of VA IT will be challenging in light of the Congressional funding cycle, Ronzio continued, especially since system modernization can be unpredictable in ways that do not easily obey these predetermined allocation periods…” Read the full article here.

Source: Balancing Challenges of Data Continuity and IT Modernization at VA – By Adam Patterson, February 18, 2020. GovernmentCIO.

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