VA, Cerner EHR system has been 'unusable' 52 times since 2020

The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that its Cerner EHR system has been partly or completely unusable at least 52 times since its launch in 2020, The Spokesman-Review reported May 8. 

The EHR system saw a total of 42 "unplanned degradations" and eight "unplanned outages" between its launch in 2020 and April 20, 2022, said Randal Noller public affairs officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Two more outages were also reported on April 25 and April 26, for a total of 52 incidents.

Mr. Noller said most of the incidents were not "large-scale outages."

The Cerner system, which launched at Spokane, Wash.-based Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in October 2020, is a part of the VA's $16.1 billion effort, in partnership with Cerner, to modernize its EHR systems. 

Mass rollouts of the Cerner EHR have faced multiple setbacks that have prolonged the rollout of the new software in other VA care facilities and affiliates. This led to inspections and criticism following the outages. 

Most recently, a joint audit conducted by both departments' Offices of Inspector General, published May 5 cited that the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs failed to achieve interoperability during their deployment of their Cerner Millennium EHRs. 

This comes after executives from Cerner and VA officials testified at a congressional hearing before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs to examine the future of the VA's electronic health record modernization program.

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