VA has been inaccurately tracking costs of legacy EHR system, report finds

The Department of Veterans Affairs is unaware of the accurate maintenance cost of its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture because the department did not follow "well-documented methodology" on cost tracking for decades, according to a July 25 U.S. Government Accountability Office report.

VA is currently underway on its $16 billion, 10-year Cerner EHR implementation, and the department needs to provide the EHR vendor with detailed information on the legacy VistA system to ensure a successful transition. However, the department has been unable to do so due to gaps in past reporting.   

"Program officials stated that they have not been able to fully define VistA due to the decentralization of the development of the system for more than 30 years," the report states.

VA determined the costs for VistA and its related activities at approximately $913.7 million, $664.3 million and $711.1 million in fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. Collectively, the total for VistA during the three-year period is around $2.3 billion, however, of that amount, the VA was only able to show that an estimated $1 billion of the costs were "sufficiently reliable," according to GAO. Additionally, the department excluded VistA-related costs from the total.

"The lack of a sufficiently reliable and comprehensive total cost for VistA is due in part to not following a well-documented methodology that describes how the department determined the costs for the system," the report states. "As a result of incomplete cost data and data that could not be determined to be sufficiently reliable, the department, legislators, and the public do not have a complete understanding of how much it has cost to develop and maintain VistA."

The GAO advised VA to develop and implement a method to accurately identify and report the total costs of VistA, which the department agreed to. 

To access the full report, click here.

More articles on EHRs:
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