VA CIO 'cautiously optimistic' about Cerner rollout

Kurt DelBene, CIO of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said despite the troubles the department has had with its $16 billion Oracle Cerner EHR rollout, he is still "cautiously optimistic" about it, FedScoop reported Aug. 25. 

Mr. DelBene said that the department's initial rollout of the Oracle Cerner EHR system was "pretty aggressive," but that the VA has learned a lot about the deployment through the five VA sites currently using the system.

He said the five sites running the Cerner EHR system — Spokane (Wash.) VA Health Care System; VA Walla Walla (Wash.) Health Care; Roseburg (Ore.) VA Health Care System; White City-based VA Southern Oregon Health Care; and Whitehall-based VA Central Ohio Health Care System — have given the department insights on the system's functional usability, resilience and reliability.

In April, the VA decided to halt the rollout of the Cerner EHR system at additional VA facilities until it can address problems with the system at facilities already using it. This move was one Mr. DelBene felt good about. 

"I feel good about the fact that we have taken a pause, that we have very concrete requirements, a number of them are actually put into the update to the contract. So we now have lots and lots of SLA, or service level agreement, dimensions that are actually spelled out with penalties," he said. 

He continued, stating that it's a complex task to change a health record system and believes the pause was the right thing to do. 

Mr. DelBene said that although the VA has made progress with its EHR, he said the department will not "start our resume from the pause until we feel good about where we're going next."

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