Where the VA, Cerner EHR project stands ahead of 2020 

Various developments in the Department of Veterans Affairs' EHR modernization project emerged throughout 2019, from schedule delays to the introduction of a new training program.

In May 2018, VA finalized a $10 billion contract with Cerner to develop an EHR that will be interoperable with the U.S. Defense Department's system.

Here are 11 developments on the VA and Cerner EHR project in 2019:

Feb. 26. VA officials defend the length of the project and its cost, which increased to $16 billion for additional infrastructure upgrades and project management support, during a U.S. House Appropriations committee meeting.

March 6. VA officials and lawmakers decide that the department will use the full 10 years of its contract with Cerner to develop and deploy the EHR.

April 16. U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., introduce legislation that calls for the creation of a third-party committee to oversee the VA's Cerner EHR installation.

Aug. 13. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says the department is "on track" for its 10-year Cerner EHR rollout and plans to implement the new system at three VA medical centers in Washington by April 2020.

Aug. 27. VA's March 2020 Cerner EHR rollout is reportedly expected to be partially or fully delayed. The go-live, which was planned for three VA medical centers in Washington, will be split into two blocks, with the first launch in March and April and the second deployment in October.

Sept. 7. Department of Defense goes live on its new Cerner EHR at four sites in California and Idaho.

Sept. 17. VA unveils a new training program, the VA Innovative Technology Advancement Lab, in support of its EHR modernization effort and Cerner system implementation.

Sept. 27. VA confirms that the EHR go-lives in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., will be delayed until October 2020. However, the launch at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., remains scheduled for March 2020. The department also announces a two-year delay on the rollout of its Cerner-developed appointment scheduling tool.

Oct. 18. Cerner enters into a definitive agreement to acquire AbleVets, an IT consulting and engineering firm focused on federal health clients.

Oct. 31. VA and DOD officials discuss their organizations' joint efforts to promote interoperability between their Cerner-based EHR systems, which will unite an estimated 18 million U.S. service members, veterans and their families on a single platform.

Nov. 20. A House Veterans Affairs subcommittee raises concerns that VA may not be ready to deploy its new Cerner EHR in March 2020. The VA confirms it is still "on track to begin transitioning" to the new EHR on March 28.

More articles on EHRs:
Some ONC-certified EHRs present issues that could harm patient safety, analysis finds
Colorado HIEs pool data-sharing services, expand reach to millions of patients
Cerner integrates Change Healthcare's medical review service with EHR

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