8 in 10 Washington VA employees say morale plunged after $16B Cerner EHR rollout

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Since the Department of Veterans Affairs deployed Cerner's EHR at Spokane, Wash.-based Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, 83 percent of employees said their morale has plummeted, Federal Computer Week reported Nov. 2.

The survey findings were discussed at a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee meeting as the department reviews difficulties encountered during the $16 billion Cerner EHR rollout in October 2020 so it can try and produce a better outcome when it resumes its rollout in 2022.

For the survey, 833 employees at the facility were asked questions by the National Center for Organization Development to gauge how the EHR rollout affected employees. The survey found that 83 percent of employees say their morale has worsened since switching to Cerner. Sixty-two percent of clinicians said they lacked confidence in using Cerner's EHR, 22 percent said they were neutral and 16 percent said they were very confident using the software.

A VA spokesperson told Becker's the department is unable to share the full survey because its participation is voluntary and anonymous.

"The survey’s purpose was to assess employees’ perception (morale) after implementation of the Cerner EHR at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center and to serve as feedback for senior VA leaders and other local, regional and national stakeholders," the spokesperson told Becker's.

VA Deputy Secretary Donald Remy testified at the hearing that he believed the Washington hospital was safe, but he acknowledged there are ongoing issues from the EHR rollout, such as a fragmented patient portal and productivity loss, Federal Computer Week reported.

Despite persistent problems at the Washington hospital, the VA plans to continue its rollout in February in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Remy said even though the rollout will resume in the coming months, the problems at the Washington hospital have not been overlooked and he is visiting the hospital in a few weeks, according to the report.

Brian Sandager, general manager and senior vice president for Cerner, told Becker's that "Cerner supports [the] VA and shares their commitment to getting this right. We take our responsibility to veterans and VA providers seriously and have remained on site at Mann-Grandstaff gathering feedback and implementing change requests as directed by VA. [The] continued success of VA’s EHRM program will require transparency and an unwavering dedication to do what is right for veterans and the VA providers who passionately serve them."

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