VA, Cerner strike $10B, 10-year deal on EHR overhaul

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department finalized a contract with Cerner May 17, awarding the EHR vendor $10 billion over the next 10 years to put the VA on the same records system as the  U.S. Defense Department.

The agreement came almost one year after former VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, announced Cerner would replace the agency's legacy EHR, VistA. Dr. Shulkin, who was ousted from the agency in March, praised the deal in a tweet.

"A big day for @DeptVetAffairs! Congratulations all around for finalizing the @Cerner contract. An important step forward in the modernization of this essential system. Also a huge advance for interoperability standards across the industry. Gratitude to @DeptofDefense, @WhiteHouse, and the @VeteransHealth/ IT team and many others who made this happen," the May 17 tweet reads.

The award is one of the largest IT contracts in the federal government. It requires that the new  electronic records platform be able to share patient data securely and seamlessly between the VA, DOD and community providers. The VA also will be able to add capabilities to the system as necessary to meet the unique needs of veterans, VA clinicians and community providers.

"In sum, signing this contract today is an enormous win for our nation's veterans. It puts in place a modern IT system that will support the best possible healthcare for decades to come.  That's exactly what our nation's heroes deserve," acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie stated in a news release.

The VA will work with the DOD, which began its  transition to Cerner in February 2017, to avoid problems the DOD encountered with its rollout, including the management and  documentation of patient care, poor system usability, insufficient training and inadequate help desk support.

Congress  already has  awarded the VA $782 million in funding for fiscal year 2018 to get the project underway.

More articles on EHRs:
Democrats demand VA fire acting CIO, citing 'malign neglect' on EHR project
Contractors bash firm hired to help with Mayo's Epic implementation
DOD's EHR isn't 'operationally suitable,' Pentagon report finds

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