- The House Appropriations subcommittee that handles the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cleared the agency’s fiscal year 2018 spending bill on Monday, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review reports. The proposal is scheduled for full committee markup on Thursday.
- The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill includes $65 million for EHR modernization, as had been requested by President Donald Trump.
- In allotting the $65 million, lawmakers asked for a “detailed explanation” of the VAs Cerner solicitation, a roadmap for interoperability with DoD and non-VA providers and a comprehensive plan for developing and implementing a new EHR, including annual and lifetime costs.
After much deliberation, the VA last week announced its choice of Cerner to provide EHR services, though the agency will continue to use Epic Systems for online appointment scheduling.
The VA contract is another feather in Cerner’s cap, after the EHR vendor snagged a $4.3 billion contract with the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2015. Lawmakers have been pressuring the VA for years to replace its in-house EHR, VistA, with a commercial product. The new system, dubbed MHS Genesis, will be based on Cerner’s Millennium EHR product.
Interoperability played a role in the VA's decision. It will allow the VA and DoD to sync up on the same EHR platform. “Without improved and consistently implemented national interoperability standards, VA and DoD will continue to face significant challenges if the departments remain on two different systems,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said at the time.
Cerner holds about a quarter of the acute EHR market, company officials said earlier this year. The vendor won contacts with 109 acute care hospitals in 2016. It has also been looking at expansion opportunities downmarket and reported about a quarter of EHR purchases last year by hospitals with 200 or fewer beds.