VA has option to scrap Epic scheduling system

The Department of Veterans Affairs has the option to terminate its contract with Epic and Leidos for a $624 million patient scheduling system, despite early success at an Ohio VA facility, according to Politico.

Leidos, who is helping facilitate the project, previously said it could complete the rollout three years ahead of schedule for nearly half the planned budget. However, VA's decision to transition to the Cerner EHR lead to a reconsideration of its Epic project.

The contract for the Medical Appointment Scheduling System was awarded in 2015 but the first pilot didn't begin until April 2018, a delay implemented so VA officials could weigh whether it wanted to move forward with Epic or update its legacy system.

Now, the VA has the option to phase out the MASS project with Epic — which the agency has already spent $23 million on — and instead, deploy Cerner's tool. It will run the pilot through April 2019 and then undertake a top-to-bottom review of its performance before making an "informed, data-driven decision regarding the program's next steps," VA spokesperson Curt Cashour told Becker's Hospital Review. 

"VA expects the pilot to run through April 2019 in order to collect and capture change management lessons learned, which can be used by [the EHRs modernization office] for Cerner," Mr. Cashour told Politico.

Although the VA has signed a $10 billion, 10-year contract with Cerner, it is divvying up work orders in a piece-by-piece fashion and, in theory, could merge the Epic scheduling system with the Cerner EHR. It is not yet clear which system VA officials are leaning toward.

"VA acquired a state-of-the-market scheduling module as part of the Cerner Millennium platform," Mr. Cashour told the news outlet. "Our assessments are ongoing regarding the optimum use of the Cerner and MASS contract vehicles in support of our veterans while fulfilling our fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers."

Editor's Note: This article was edited July 3, 2018 to clarify VA's decision to terminate its contract has not be finalized after a VA spokesperson reached out to Becker's Hospital Review.

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