Cerner may edge out Epic in another major VA deal  

The Department of Veterans Affairs has all but decided to swap its $624 million Epic patient scheduling system for Cerner's, according to a Dec. 14 letter from Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.

"My understanding based on testimony from and conversations with Department leaders is that VA's preference is to implement the Cerner Millennium scheduling package, because it has either already been purchased or a commitment has been made to purchase it," wrote Mr. Banks, who is chairman of the House subcommittee on technology modernization.

The VA awarded a contract in 2015 to Epic for its Medical Appointment Scheduling System. Leidos was hired to help facilitate the project. Available information shows a pilot of Epic's Cadence scheduling software has been successful, according to Mr. Banks. However, the project was started and stopped many times. "When MASS was allowed to proceed, it was structured in an excessively slow and expensive manner, which had the effect of making it appear unfavorable when compared to [the VistA Scheduling Enhancement]," Mr. Banks wrote. VistA is the agency’s homegrown EHR, and the scheduling enhancement was intended to be a temporary solution.   

In July, the the agency indicated it might scrap the Epic system, despite already spending $23 million on the project, because it had chosen Cerner for its EHR.  A VA spokesperson told Becker's in July that the agency would continue to run the Epic pilot through April 2019 and then review performance before deciding on next steps.

Mr. Banks called on the agency to fully explore all options before deciding and report on several aspects of a potential Cerner contract, including cost and timelines.

 

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