Representatives introduce bipartisan bill to promote EHR oversight at the VA

A bipartisan group of four representatives introduced legislation Nov. 3 to improve accountability during the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' upcoming EHR implementation.

House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chairman Phil Roe, MD, R-Tenn., and ranking member Tim Walz, D-Minn., introduced the bill with House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Jack Bergman, R-Mich., and ranking member Annie Kuster, D-N.H.

The bill, titled the Veterans' Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act of 2017, would strengthen Congress' authority to oversee the VA's EHR implementation process.

"As chairman and a physician, I know firsthand the value an effective electronic health records system plays in providing patients with quality healthcare," Dr. Roe said.

Under the proposed legislation, the VA would provide Congress with key planning and implementation documents, including contracts, for the EHR project. The VA would also be required to notify Congress of any significant cost increases, schedule delays, data losses or privacy breaches. The goal is to ensure Congress is up-to-date on the project's progress and spending.

"It is well known that large IT modernization projects, particularly those in the government, often encounter significant problems," Mr. Bergman said. "It's also no secret that VA has a poor track record of keeping Congress informed regarding its modernization efforts. While it appears the VA has made strides to improve the flow of information, complete transparency is essential for the modernization of its electronic health record."

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