- Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin told lawmakers it will take 18 months to launch the new Cerner EHR system once the contract is finalized, but seven to eight years to fully transition from its homegrown system, Healthcare IT News reports.
- During a House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing Tuesday, Shulkin brushed off concerns the agency won't be able to hit those timelines and stay within budgeted costs. “This is a new VA,” he said in response to questioning by Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas). He added the VA recently requested information on how to achieve interoperability with community providers.
- The cost of the project has not been revealed, but estimates suggest a price tag in the $18 billion range, according to Politico.
The VA has yet to finalize its next-generation EHR contract with Cerner, which was awarded in June. Known as MHS Genesis, the VA system is based on Cerner’s Millennium EHR product.
The contract marked another big win for the vendor, which won a $4.3 billion Department of Defense contract for Genesis in 2015. Congress has been pressuring the VA for years to replace its homegrown EHR, Vista, with a commercial product.
Since February, Genesis has gone live at two DOD sites — Naval Hospital Oak Harbor in Seattle and Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington.
In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $78.4 billion fiscal 2018 spending bill for the VA. Notably lacking is any specific funding for transitioning to Cerner’s EHR.
By contrast, the spending bill cleared by the House Appropriations Committee’s VA subcommittee includes $65 million for EHR modernization. However, lawmakers on the panel, concerned about the cost of the Cerner project, asked the VA for a full explanation of the contract solicitation, a roadmap for interoperability with DoD and non-VA providers and details on developing and deploying the new EHR, including annual and lifetime costs.
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed EHR vendor CliniComp International’s lawsuit because of a lack of jurisdiction. San Diego-based CliniComp argued the VA failed to conduct a competitive bidding process before handing Cerner the contract, thereby excluding other vendors from consideration. CliniComp plans to appeal the ruling.