- VA is expected to go live with its Cerner EHR implementation across all care sites by 2028, according to Cerner Government Services President Travis Dalton.
Dalton delivered this news and other updates about Cerner’s ongoing work with federal entities during a 2019 investment community meeting at HIMSS19 in Orlando, Florida.
VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) are currently in the process of modernizing their health IT infrastructure by swapping legacy EHR technology for commercial Cerner systems.
In addition to modernizing their health IT infrastructure, the federal agencies are also hoping to improve care quality and patient health outcomes by upgrading to Cerner. VA and DoD will also prioritize connecting patients and providers across federal departments and the continuum of care during the EHR implementation process.
Improving interoperability between DoD and VA is imperative to achieving this aim. Cerner also plans to enhance health data exchange between VA and DoD care sites and community providers.
Additionally, VA and DoD hope to improve force readiness by creating a single, connected health record for service members that unites health data across providers and specialties.
“One of the biggest reason service members are declared unfit for duty is dental,” explained Dalton. “It’s not always just dental issues, but it’s lack of visibility into the dental record. We’re actually providing integration with dental into the medical record. That’s important for them.”
A key component of VA’s EHR implementation plan involves leveraging lessons learned from DoD’s deployment to streamline the system launch.
“We’ve learned a lot of lessons from DoD,” said Dalton.
“We’re doing some things differently around change management and program management,” he added. “We’ve got a full team that’s out in the Pacific Northwest that’s working with the VA medical centers out there.”
VA is conducting workflow-based training and has launched an informatics institute to improve user capabilities. Cerner has also launched a new sustainment model for its VA implementation, and will be operating help desks for VA after go-live.
All told, the VA implementation will include 47 deployment waves, plus an initial operating capability (IOC) deployment. The federal agency plans to go live with its IOC care sites in the second quarter of 2020.
“We’re going to start some wave deployments in parallel to that IOC,” clarified Dalton. “So, we’re going to be a little more aggressive in terms of how we move out collectively with them. Some of that is based on the common baseline we have with the DoD.”
Cerner is currently focused on completing VA’s IOC go-live, as well as national and local workshops and roadshows at IOC care sites. Additionally, Cerner and VA leadership are working to plan task orders and complete goals set forth by a project roadmap.
“There are many challenges,” said Dalton. “A couple of the big ones are environment management.”
Cerner is meeting daily with stakeholders from VA, DoD, Leidos, and other parties to foster communication and understanding across organizations. These meetings will help to enable timely decision making throughout the implementation.
“We’re seeing very positive trends in the right direction on decision making,” Dalton said.
VA’s Cerner EHR implementation should be completed at all care sites by 2028.
Cerner plans to go live at the last DoD care site in 2025. The DoD implementation will include 23 deployment waves, in addition to its IOC deployment.
DoD and Cerner will work to kick off the second deployment wave in the summer of 2019.
To date, the Cerner EHR system has helped providers at DoD care sites avoid more than 2,300 duplicate lab orders and cut 9 minutes on average from patient wait times at DoD emergency departments.
“We're actually very pleased with where we're at on DoD,” said Dalton.