The U.S. Department of Veterans Services will continue to use Epic Systems for its online medical appointment scheduling program despite the VA this week choosing Cerner to provide its EHR services.
Epic’s five-year $624 million contract will remain in effect, meaning Epic will continue to offer online scheduling for veterans. Epic’s contract will not be affected by the Cerner Corporation EHR announcement.
- The VA didn’t solicit bids for the new EHR and it’s not known whether Epic would have even bid on the project.
The Cerner contract is a huge deal in the highly competitive legacy EHR space. It's the second major government contract for Cerner over the past two years. Cerner won a $4.3 billion contract with the Department of Defense in 2015.
Cerner’s EHR will let the VA move away from its homegrown EHR, VistA, and go with a new program called MHS Genesis that will use the Cerner Millennium EHR product as its core. Cerner’s EHR will allow the Department of Defense and VA to sync on the same platform, though a lot of work will be necessary to link up the systems.
Despite Cerner's VA contract, the news that Epic’s VA contract will remain is good news for a health IT company that already had a federal agency sever its ties last year. In April 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard ended its EHR contract with Epic and went back to using paper documentation after the Coast Guard alleged “significant risks and various uncovered irregularities.”
At the time of the Cerner announcement, Epic stated, "As the largest EHR vendor in the United States, covering two-thirds of the nation’s patients, we are proud to serve our veterans both through the VA scheduling project and through our customers that care for millions of veterans across America.”
There is other good news for Epic. A recent report said the VA will soon announce an expansion of its Epic scheduling software program.
Cerner recently announced at a shareholder meeting that the company and Epic both hold about one-quarter of the acute EHR market. Cerner said it won contract decisions involving 109 acute care hospitals last year, while Epic picked up 91 hospital contracts. However, if you exclude existing customer add-ons, the gap shrunk to 69-66.