VA head visits hospital after 'pleas for help' with new Cerner EHR

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The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Denis McDonough, visited Spokane, Wash.-based Mann-Grandstaff Medical Center after he heard concerns that the VA's Cerner EHR adoption was causing distress for veterans and hospital staff, according to an April 29 article by CBS affiliate Krem 2.

The Spokane hospital is the first to be upgraded as part of Cerner's $16 billion EHR rollout. The VA recently paused the rollout amid usability concerns and launched a strategic review.

In a note to Mr. McDonough, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said she witnessed "pleas for help" after the EHR rollout because of prescription mix-ups, lack of staff training and confusion with the patient portal. 

Mr. McDonough said the note was the reason he came to Spokane.

He told Krem 2 that he had concerns about how the EHR rollout would affect the hospital.

"I'm worried ... about the impact on productivity," he told Krem 2. "And let's just be really clear what I mean by productivity, I mean about access for our vets to care."

His second concern is how the EHR rollout will affect the hospital staff's stress levels and morale. Another concern he has is training and if there was enough of an investment upfront to support proper training.

"Over the course of this review we'll be looking also at questions around additional requirements, cost, interaction with DoD and then we'll make some decisions about next steps as we get to the end of that," Mr. McDonough said.

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