House passes bill requiring VA to check in with Congress throughout EHR project

Included in a batch of veterans-related bills the House passed May 22 is the Veterans' Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act (H.R.4245), which would require the agency to regularly update Congress on the progress of its massive EHR modernization project, according to Nextgov.

The Veterans Affairs Department awarded Cerner the $10 billion, 10-year contract May 17 to overhaul its legacy EHR and bring patient records to the same platform as the Defense Department.

The bill instructs VA to inform Congress of any contract or schedule changes within five days, and report any major delays, bid protests, data losses or privacy breaches within 10 days. The agency must submit its plan for building and implementing the EHR and also update Congress on a quarterly basis regarding timelines, costs, performance and risk management strategy.

"If successful, VA's Cerner project will be a transformation of how VA delivers and manages the health care of 9 million veterans. Still, the path to achieving a seamless, interoperable health record is far from clear," House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, MD, R-Md., told Nextgov. "Oversight will be a key part of this transition as the process moves forward, which is why I'm proud to support this important bill."

The DOD's EHR overhaul began more than one year ago at pilot sites in the Pacific Northwest. The rollout was paused in February to address a number of concerns, including nearly 14,000 help-desk tickets. Months later, an April 30 government watchdog report deemed the system "neither operationally effective nor operationally suitable."

The Senate version of the bill has yet to gain committee approval.

More articles on EHRs:
Epic managers, consultants and trainers share 10 tips for a successful go-live
Columbus Regional Healthcare System to implement Cerner's EHR
Allscripts completes acquisition of patient engagement firm HealthGrid

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