VA orders strategic review of $16B Cerner EHR rollout: 7 details

The Department of Veterans Affairs will launch a strategic review of its $16 billion Cerner EHR implementation to ensure the next deployments in the rollout avoid any issues, according to a March 19 VA news release.

Seven details:

1. VA went live on the new EHR Oct. 24 at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., without any major reported issues. However, in February, the Government Accountability Office recommended the department pause the rollout to perform "critical" tests before deploying the system at any more facilities.

2. The VA responded to the GAO's report by "concurring in principle," but told FedScoop in a Feb. 11 report that it doesn't intend to stop the rollout, which is scheduled to deploy next at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

3. In the March 19 press release, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said a strategic review of the modernization program is necessary following the department's "rigorous review" of its most recent deployment at Mann-Grandstaff. He said the department "remains committed to the Cerner Millennium" EHR and that VA "must get this right for Veterans."

4. VA's order of the review comes after Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., sent a letter to Mr. McDonough this week alleging she has received reports of "dangerous and unacceptable" delays in medical services, particularly dealing with filling prescriptions, according to a March 18 FedScoop report.

5. VA cited its ongoing analysis of the Mann-Grandstaff Initial Operating Capability post-deployment activities as the reason for a schedule shift with the project. The department's Columbus facility is scheduled as the next go-live site, but the order of subsequent deployments may be revised after the new review, according to the news release.

6. The strategic review will not take longer than 12 weeks, VA said. It will focus on pinpointing areas for additional productivity and clinical workflow optimization at Mann-Grandstaff and upcoming go-live sites, as well as further researching improvements for the patient portal experience, data syndication and revenue cycle improvements.

7. Cerner said it supports the VA's decision to conduct a strategic program review. In a March 19 emailed statement to Becker's, a company spokesperson said, "Our number one priority remains the Veterans we serve and delivering solutions that drive the transformation of care across the VA."


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