Shulkin delays awarding EHR contract to Cerner amid interoperability concerns

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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, MD, told the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter he decided to delay awarding the agency's EHR contract to Cerner after a December meeting with company executives. 

Dr. Shulkin had told Congress on Sept. 27 the VA was on track with the original timeline to close the deal with Cerner and released a 30-day notice of award of a contract. In late October, various agency officials noted the contract had not been finalized and cited early November as the VA's new target.

November likewise ended without a completed contract, in part because Congress had reportedly yet to approve the project's funding.

Under the VA's estimated $10 billion contract, the agency would ask Cerner to deploy an EHR that's interoperable with both the U.S. Department of Defense and private sector providers' EHR systems.

However, during a meeting in early December, Dr. Shulkin said he disagreed with company executives about the definition of "interoperability." Dr. Shulkin argued Cerner's definition was too narrow, only covering Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture.

"To say it wasn't a good meeting would be an understatement," Dr. Shulkin told Politico.

Dr. Shulkin said the VA staff have used the additional time to consult with IT experts about interoperability. It is unclear when the VA will finalize its contract with Cerner.

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