VA's most expensive task? Modernizing IT, says Shulkin

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' most expensive task is modernizing IT systems, VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, said during a White House press briefing May 31.

During the briefing, Dr. Shulkin discussed the state of the VA system, including patient wait times and veterans' suicide rates.

"I have said that the problems in VA are not largely going to be solved through additional money," he said. "These are going to be solved through management practices, focus and some legislation changes.

Dr. Shulkin continued: "I do believe, with the exception of one area, that we will not be coming back to Congress or the administration to ask them for additional money. And that one exception is to modernize our IT systems."

Dr. Shulkin vowed to decide on the VA's EHR strategy by July at the latest, echoing a loose timeline he outlined in March. Dr. Shulkin said the VA's modernized IT systems must be "commercially viable and cloud-based solutions to the maximum extent possible."

The new EHR strategy will consist of either "outsourcing our current system to a commercial vendor or picking a system that is a commercial, off-the-shelf system," he said during the briefing. "And that will require an initial capital investment that's not in [the 2018] fiscal year budget."

Click here to view the press briefing.

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