- The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week it had renegotiated its contract with Oracle Cerner to overhaul its electronic health record after a series of implementation missteps, including patient safety concerns.
- The agency promised the updated contract “dramatically increases” its ability to hold the technology giant accountable for outages, responsiveness to clinician requests and interoperability with other health systems and applications.
- The deal includes stronger performance expectations and larger financial credits to the VA if Oracle Cerner doesn't meet requirements, according to a statement from Neil Evans, acting program executive director of the EHR Modernization project.
The VA first signed a contact with EHR vendor Cerner — later acquired by Oracle — in 2018 to migrate from its customized VistA medical records system.
But the Cerner rollout has been slow and more expensive than planned. The first VA hospital to use the new EHR went live in 2020, and four sites deployed the system last year.
The VA Office of the Inspector General found “high-risk” patient safety issues at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center attributed to the EHR. A report published in July described one error where orders for labs, imaging or specialty care were sent to an undetectable location, causing harm to multiple patients.
In April, the VA said it would put future deployments on hold to focus on improvements at sites already using the new EHR.
Despite delays, Mike Sicilia, executive vice president of Oracle Global Industries, said in a statement to Healthcare Dive that the new agreement reflects the company's "complete confidence" in its technology and partnership with the VA.
The new deal will also shift from a five-year term to five one-year terms, so the VA can renegotiate the contract again if necessary, according to the department.
“The system has not delivered for veterans or VA clinicians to date, but we are stopping at nothing to get this right — and we will deliver the efficient, well-functioning system that veterans and clinicians deserve,” Evans said in a statement.