The creation of the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) office is a result of a concerted, joint effort between the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In 2018, the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs issued a joint commitment to implement a “single, seamlessly integrated electronic health record (EHR) that will accurately and efficiently share health data between our two agencies and ensure health record interoperability with our supporting community healthcare providers.” The letter emphasized “it is imperative that the DOD and VA work together to promote the best use of resources in pursuit of our common EHR modernization goals and objectives.”
In response, DOD and VA leaders chartered the Joint Electronic Health Record Modernization Working Group (JEHRM) to develop recommendations for an organizational construct that would enable an agile, decision-making authority to efficiently adjudicate functional, technical and programmatic interoperability issues while advancing unity, synergy and efficiencies.
The JEHRM’s efforts culminated in Department approval on March 2, 2019, for a joint office construct. Subsequently, the Departments committed to implementation planning and identified interim leadership to stand up the organization until completion of the executive recruiting process. The FEHRM Interim Director, Dr. Neil Evans, and Interim Deputy Director, Ms. Holly Joers, were appointed on September 16, 2019. The Deputy Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs signed the FEHRM Charter on December 4, 2019.
DOD and VA selected Mr. Bill Tinston as the FEHRM Director and Mr. Ed Reyelts as the FEHRM Deputy Director, and they started in August 2020. After Mr. Reyelts' departure, the Departments selected Mr. John Windom for the role of FEHRM Deputy Director, and he joined the office in January 2022.
At inception, the FEHRM focused on the following priorities:
- Determining organizational funding and resource alignment
- Developing a communications strategy and tools
- Consolidating joint issue lists and establishing a framework to manage risks, issues and opportunities
- Establishing a formal decision forum to reconcile issues
From this foundation, the FEHRM’s focus areas evolved to delivering common capabilities within the federal space that enhanced the care experience for all.