VA chooses Cerner's scheduling software over Epic's

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has decided to scrap its scheduling software project with Epic and switch to a service from Cerner, the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter reports.

Seven things to know:

1. In 2015, the VA signed a $624-million deal with Epic to use its scheduling software.

2. The project with Epic was ultimately delayed as the VA weighed whether it would rather use a homegrown scheduling system compatible with its legacy EHR, VistA. Then, in June 2017, the VA announced its decision to overhaul VistA and transition to a Cerner system.

3. In the wake of its EHR decision, VA officials continued to debate whether to continue the Epic project. The agency opted to pilot Epic's software at a VA facility in Columbus, Ohio.

4. The scheduling software went live at the Ohio VA in April 2018 — nine months after the project started — and on budget, according to information Epic provided Becker's Hospital Review via email. In addition, Epic's scheduling software reportedly helped the VA complete more appointments, reduce wait times and improve scheduling productivity. Epic added that the project likely could have been rolled out at the VA systemwide in under two years, at half the project's original budget.

5, However, Congress advised the VA in December to fast-track the Cerner scheduling software to all VA facilities by 2024. The move was confirmed in a congressional document reviewed by Politico.

6. In reaction to the decision, Epic provided the following statement to Becker's Hospital Review:

"Given that Cerner was awarded a no-bid contract to replace VistA, we recognized VA would likely be required to use Cerner scheduling at some point in the future. We thank VA, our partners, and the team at the Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center for their work on a wonderfully successful scheduling pilot."

7. A handful of private health systems in the U.S. currently use Epic for scheduling and a Cerner EHR in their practices, according to Epic.

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