7 things to know about VA's reboot of Cerner EHR go-live

The Department of Veterans Affairs is rebooting its $16 billion Cerner EHR go-live and will follow a revised implementation schedule this fall, according to a Sept. 3 FCW report.

In February, VA postponed the system rollout at its Spokane, Wash.-based Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center to July but then further delayed the go-live in April to focus on its COVID-19 pandemic response.

Despite the delays, VA's office of EHR modernization director John Windom told the publication that the project was never paused or stopped: "What we did instead was found other avenues to continue to make progress," he said.

Seven things to know about VA's revised rollout:

1. In the past few months, the VA has been developing its "1.1 capability set," which is a version of its Cerner EHR with interfaces and coding designed to support small- and medium-sized hospitals in the department's network.

2. One aspect of the delays was VA's goal to deploy the capability set 1.1's expanded functions that support a wider range of clinical activities than previously designed for the launch.

3. The 1.1 capability set includes functions for VA's small and mid-size hospitals, while the 2.0 set will support the capabilities needed at VA's largest medical centers. Despite development being slowed by the pandemic, the VA is now pushing the 2.0 set forward and plans for it to be ready by next spring.

4. Instead of waiting for the 2.0 set to deploy the system in spring 2021, VA turned to other areas of the project, such as rolling out its new Cerner scheduling module. It launched the Cerner appointment-scheduling tool Aug. 21 at VA Central Ohio Healthcare System in Columbus.

5. Because of the successful scheduling tool launch, VA has decided to accelerate the go-live of the entire Cerner EHR system in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 10, which is a regional group of VA facilities in the Midwest that includes the Columbus hospital.

6. As VA focuses on VISN 10, the department will also rollout upgrades across VISN 20, which includes the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The necessary infrastructure, including increased bandwidth, was completed for all of VISN 20 during the COVID-19 quarantine period.

7. VA is also working on having infrastructure upgrades completed six months to one year before the Cerner go-live dates to avoid issues with trying to use the modern software system on slow connections and old equipment.

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