- It's unlikely the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' $16 billion EHR system, under a 10-year contract with Cerner, will be ready by its initial March launch date, according to VA Press Secretary Christina Mandreucci. More time is needed to complete the records system and ensure clinicians and other users are properly trained on it, and a new launch date will be announced in the coming weeks, she said in a statement.
- Some lawmakers have urged the VA to take its time with the massive undertaking. The agency will adopt the same EHR platform used by the U.S. Department of Defense, which also inked a 2015 contract with Cerner.
- The ability to seamlessly share data between the VA and DoD's records systems has been a key component of the plan. Interoperability between the two systems would help securely facilitate the transfer of records from active-duty service members as they transition to veteran status.
The no-bid project has been dogged by Congressional controversy for several years, initially carrying a $10 billion price tag that is now around $16 billion.
After rigorous testing of its new EHR at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, the VA says it now needs more time to complete the system and ensure proper training for clinicians and other users.
The undertaking that started in 2018 calls for a rolling implementation schedule through 2027, according to Mandreucci, who said 75% to 80% of it is complete.
Some members of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, such as Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Jim Banks, R-Ind., issued their support for the department's delay.
"With a project as complex, costly, and impactful as this one, the worst thing VA could do is jump the gun," the officials said in a statement Monday. "We applaud VA for recognizing that more training and preparation is needed and taking the time to get this right."
Others feel differently. Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nevada, chairwoman of the House VA Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of the House VA Committee, issued a statement Monday that said committee staff were not informed of any major problems during a call with VA officials on Jan. 17 and a meeting with Cerner officials Thursday.
Lee called for a hearing Tuesday to investigate the delay. "We need to know we can take VA at its word," she said.
In 2015, Cerner was awarded a $4.3 billion contract to implement DoD's EHR system. The VA will adopt that same EHR platform, and is working with DoD to learn from its previous rollout.
A spokesperson with Cerner declined to comment on the record.