Oracle to 'rewrite' VA's Cerner EHR system amid outages

An Oracle executive in charge of the VA EHR modernization project said the company intends to rewrite the Cerner system as a new, cloud-based application for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Spokesman-Review reported Sept. 21.

At a House hearing Sept. 20, Oracle Executive Vice President Mike Sicilia said Oracle will release a beta version of that system in 2023 and will "deliver it as a cost-free upgrade under the current contract."  

The VA has a $16 billion contract with the Oracle Cerner to overhaul the agency's health records system and make it compatible with the Defense Department's system. However, the project has been plagued by 498 disruptions since its implementation in the fall of 2020. 

In addition, Shereef Elnahal, MD, a VA undersecretary for health, said in the hearing that he heard from VA employees in Ohio that problems with the EHR system are causing healthcare providers to leave their jobs.

"It was something I personally observed in my visit to Columbus,"  Dr. Elnahal said. "Staff told me that this system was stressful to use and leadership told me that folks are leaving, in part because of the difficulty of the workflows."

Oracle's offer to upgrade the system comes after the VA imposed a penalty charge on Oracle Cerner for the amount of delays it experienced with the system, as well as delayed the rollout of the EHR system indefinitely to other medical centers to allow time to fix the issues. 

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