VA, DOD execs weigh in on Cerner EHR interoperability, rollouts  

Once complete, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense's Cerner-based EHR systems will unite an estimated 18 million U.S. service members, veterans and their families on a single platform.

During an interview for Cerner's Oct. 28 episode of its Perspectives on Health and Tech podcast, John Windom, executive director for VA's Office of EHR Modernization, and William Tinston, program executive officer for Defense Healthcare Management Systems, discussed how their organizations are promoting interoperability and helping to support system deployments.

Currently under a 10-year, $4.3 billion contract with Cerner, DOD deployed its new EHR system MHS Genesis at four sites in September. The agency will rollout subsequent waves of MHS Genesis approximately every three months starting in Spring 2020. VA, which formed a $16 billion contract to also develop and deploy a Cerner EHR, will begin roll outs of its system in March 2020.

To support additional training and ensure VA end users are well-versed with Cerner's EHR post implementation, the agency launched its EHR training program VA Innovative Technology Advancement Lab in September. VA is also planning to invite DOD members to participate in the training program to create a larger population of Cerner "super users" at the agencies, according to Mr. Windom.

"People want to have a security blanket, which typically comes with an understanding of the product being employed," Mr. Windom said. "VITAL is meant to leave VA end users with our own 'super-duper users,' or individuals who are well versed in the solution architect aspects of the Cerner EHR… and can continue to advance and innovate the product as intended."

Throughout the EHR implementation process and beyond, DOD and VA recognize the importance of their agencies' collaboration to support overall interoperability, Mr. Tinston added.

"We're delivering a common record about the patient. The VA is using the same record as the DOD," Mr. Tinston said. "They do different things with it because there are different capabilities that the VA needs than the DOD. That's good and healthy. But they're using that same common record…We need process interoperability, but as far as the data and record interoperability, it is the same record."

To access the podcast, click here.

More articles on EHRs:
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