- The Veterans Affairs Administration has sidelined a $624 million contract with Epic and Lockheed Martin to implement its MASS physician scheduling product while it tests a cheaper upgrade using its own software, Politico reported.
- During a Thursday hearing of the Veterans Affairs Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee, VA Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin said the Epic contract will be tapped if the in-house fix doesn’t meet the needs of veterans, VA employees and the taxpayers.
- The department has been under fire since it was learned that as many as 40 veterans may have died while awaiting care at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
Shulkin said the VA is testing its VistA scheduling enhancements (VSE) tool in 10 locations. If all goes well, the system could be launched nationwide for $6.4 million, a fraction of the cost to implement Epic’s MASS.
Epic reportedly confirmed VA's decision.
In a prepared statement, subcommittee Chairman Mike Coffman (R-CO) slammed the VA saying the move “is a dramatic about-face. It means sticking with the government-developed technology indefinitely.”
Meanwhile, VA CIO LaVerne Council told the panel that she has recommended a “state-of-the-art, world class” EMR to Shulkin, Healthcare IT News reports. Details of that initiative will be revealed this summer, she said.
A recent USA Today analysis of more than 70 reports from the VA Office of Inspector General found supervisors in VA hospitals and clinics in at least seven states told staff to falsify patient wait times. As of March 15, more than 480,000 veterans had been waiting more than 30 days to see a doctor.