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Senators Request Timeline for VA Cerner EHR Implementation

Senators recently requested VA to submit a timeline for its Cerner EHR implementation to avoid excess costs and delays.

Cerner EHR implementation

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Earlier this week, three senators submitted a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin and Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary James Mattis requesting further information on the VA EHR replacement, including a projected timeline.

Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) stressed the importance of an efficient integrated health system and applauded the efforts made by both departments to coordinate their technology. Isakson chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of which Moran is a majority member.

“We remain optimistic about the VA’s EHR transition; however, we hold great concern that the scope of this project brings several risks related to excess costs and implementation delays,” the senators wrote.

The undersigned senators advised those involved in the VA Cerner EHR implementation to work with DoD experts and adopt their implementation strategies and best practices to ensure the process goes smoothly.

DoD gained experience with implementing Cerner technology during the recent development of its own EHR system, Military Health System (MHS) Genesis.

While both department’s EHR platforms use Cerner technology, the systems will not be identical. However, both systems using the same vendor’s technology should ease of the task of enabling interoperability between VA and DoD.

“We cannot afford any mistakes on this project, as it has immense implications for the future of the VA and the proper care of our millions of veterans,” stated the senators.

While DoD and VA collaborate to develop VA’s EHR platform, the senators requests the following information: 

By encouraging both departments to work together during the Cerner EHR implementation process, the Senate intends to reduce redundancies and combine resources for solutions.

Last week, VA Secretary David Shulkin released a statement further explaining ways the VA budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2018 will assist in funding the department’s EHR modernization and other projects.

In his letter, Secretary Shulkin stated the newest iteration of VistA, called VistA 4, will be completed over the next year using the Cerner EHR platform.

Secretary Shulkin did not specify the cost of implementing the platform. 

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