VA may not be ready for Cerner EHR go-live in March, agency subcommittee says 

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While Department of Veterans Affairs plans to deploy its new Cerner EHR in March 2020, a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee is concerned VA may not be ready to start using the new system in time, according to Politico's Morning eHealth Nov. 20 newsletter.

VA is scheduled to go-live on the new EHR March 28 at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Wash. The department was previously scheduled to deploy the Cerner system at two other VA medical centers in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., during the same time period but postponed the additional go-lives until October 2020.

VA is "on track to begin transitioning" to its new EHR system in March, a VA spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review. "The [EHR] transition will take place at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center and the VAMC’s four community based outpatient clinics. These efforts are part of VA's historic effort to build a joint [EHR] integrated across all Department of Defense and VA components," the spokesperson added. 

The subcommittee is worried VA is not aware of the full complexity that comes with switching from the department's legacy system to Cerner, said Susie Lee, chair of the House Veterans Affair's technology modernization subcommittee, during the subcommittee's Nov. 20 hearing, according to Politico.

"As I learned when I traveled to Madigan Army Medical Center [in Tacoma, Wash.] earlier this year, there were a lot of patient care pain-points — including referral management, pharmacy access, and patient communication" said Ms. Lee. "I still have not seen enough information from VA to understand how these issues have been addressed for the VA-go-live."

Madigan Army Medical Center was one of the initial sites the Department of Defense piloted its Cerner-based EHR system at in 2017. DOD, which is currently under a 10-year, $4.3 billion contract with the EHR vendor, experienced project delays due to various technical and workflow issues identified during the pilot.

VA is under a $16 billion contract with Cerner to develop and deploy its EHR, which will be interoperable with the DOD's.

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