7 updates on VA's $16B Cerner EHR launch

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The Department of Veterans Affairs' $16 billion plan to modernize its EHR with Cerner has had its share of roadblocks. It has paused three times, is possibly billions of dollars over budget, and has caused countless difficulties for VA staff and patients.

Here are seven updates on the rollout from the last month:

  1. The VA's modernization efforts with Cerner were underestimated between $1 billion and $2.6 billion, as the budget didn't account for the physical infrastructure costs of the project, according to a May 26 report by the Office of Inspector General.

  2. The Biden administration is recommending a $2.7 billion budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs' EHR modernization program with Cerner for the upcoming fiscal year, according to a June 8 report by Federal News Network.

  3. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the VA will continue to partner with the Department of Defense and Cerner on its EHR rollout, but changes in the way the agency is handling the launch are coming soon. He also said he ordered a strategic review of the rollout, which has spotlighted issues afflicting the process, according to a June 8 report by Nextgov.

  4. In a June 10 press call, Holly Joers, acting program executive officer for Defense Healthcare Management Systems, said the last EHR rollout, which was completed April 24, marked 30 percent completion at military treatment facilities, according to a June 13 article by Federal Computer Week.

  5. The VA and the DOD are gearing up to test their single, interoperable Cerner EHR system for the first time since the agencies began working on the program six years ago. They will deploy both versions of the Cerner software, which operate off the same baseline but have been configured separately to account for clinician workflows at the DOD, VA and Coast Guard, at North Chicago, Ill.-based Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, according to a June 10 Nextgov report.

  6. Richard Stone, MD, who serves as the acting undersecretary for health at the Veterans Health Administration and oversaw its EHR rollout, is set to step down in mid-July. The VHA said Dr. Stone will be replaced by someone who has yet to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate., according to a June 10 report by FedScoop.

  7. At a June 16 hearing, Mr. McDonough told senators he will be in a position to submit a series of reports on the program, according to a FedScoop article.

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