VA secretary announces Cerner as next EHR: 6 things to know

The Department of Veterans Affairs will implement Cerner as its systemwide EHR, VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD, said at a June 5 news briefing at the Washington, D.C.-based VA headquarters.

Here are 6 things to know.

1. The VA currently uses a homegrown EHR called VistA across its more than 1,200 healthcare locations. However, Dr. Shulkin has spent the past few months deliberating whether to modernize VistA or move to a commercial system.

2. Dr. Shulkin highlighted VistA's longstanding history at the VA. "It was a group of courageous VA clinicians that began this groundbreaking work in the basements of VA's in the 1970's that led to the system," he said.

"That said, our current VistA system is in need of major modernization to keep pace with the improvements in health information technology and cybersecurity, and software development is not a core competency of VA."

3. To select Cerner, Dr. Shulkin said he spoke with VA clinicians, consulted with health system CIOs, CEOs and management consulting companies; and reviewed numerous reports and studies..

4. This decision marks the first time the VA will adopt the same EHR system as the Department of Defense. However, the VA and the DOD will work on similar Cerner platforms — they will not adopt the exact same EHR.

5. VA clinicians will be very involved in the system's transition to Cerner, according to Dr. Shulkin.

6. Dr. Shulkin signed a "determination and findings" form, which "determines that the VA may issue a solicitation directly to Cerner Corp. for the acquisition of the EHR system currently being deployed by DOD, for deployment and transition across the VA enterprise in a manner that meets VA needs."

"This is an exciting new phase for VA, DOD, and for the country," Dr. Shulkin concluded. "Our mission is too important not to get this right and we will."

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