Washington representative to VA secretary: $16B Cerner EHR rollout harming patients' care

Rep. Kim Schrier, MD, D-Wash., warned Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough that the Cerner EHR rollout has negatively affected patients' care and caused burnout among clinicians after she visited a VA clinic in Wenatchee, Wash., The Spokesman-Review reported Nov. 10.

Six things to know:

  1. The clinic, which is connected to Spokane, Wash.-based Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, deployed Cerner's EHR in October 2020, and it has been at the center of controversy. After this rollout, the VA paused deployments and will not pick them back up until spring 2022.

  2. She sent a letter to Mr. McDonough stating that she met with the staff, who said the new EHR made it harder for them to provide patients with timely care. Dr. Schrier is a pediatrician and has used Cerner's EHR software in the past, according to the report.

  3. "I truly believe the doctors and nurses in Wenatchee are doing the best they can under challenging circumstances to care for Veterans, but their jobs have been made exponentially more difficult by the failed rollout of the Cerner health records system in the last year," Dr. Schrier told Mr. McDonough in her letter. "One doctor told me she is able to see just half the number of patients each day now than one year ago due to inefficiencies and technology breakdowns under Cerner."

  4. Dr. Schrier told the publication that VA employees expressed to her the EHR crashes frequently, which forces them to do extra work to retype lost notes. Even measuring patients' heights and taking their blood pressure has been slowed down, according to the report.

  5. Dr. Schrier said burnout is to be expected when a health system deploys a new EHR, but what is happening to Washington VA employees is far from normal, according to the report.

  6. Brian Sandager, general manager and senior vice president for Cerner, previously told Becker's: "Cerner supports [the] VA and shares their commitment to getting this right. We take our responsibility to veterans and VA providers seriously and have remained on site at Mann-Grandstaff gathering feedback and implementing change requests as directed by VA. [The] continued success of VA's EHRM program will require transparency and an unwavering dedication to do what is right for veterans and the VA providers who passionately serve them."

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