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VA, DOD EHR Modernization to See Schedule Update

Veterans Affairs leadership prioritizes pandemic response and considers possible shifts in electronic health record implementation.
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Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough is calling for a “strategic review” of its electronic health records modernization program amid surges in the agency’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

The assessment will not exceed 12 weeks and will result in a schedule shift, according to an agency press release, though the next go-live site is still scheduled to be the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System in Columbus.

“Our dedicated VA professionals continue to work feverishly on this effort even as we maneuver through the complexities and surges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said McDonough.

VA and congressional leaders recently discussed their efforts in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic for the veteran and civilian communities. Much of that work has included standing up increased digital technology support and also boosting vaccination efforts.

“Today we’re going to celebrate 2 million veterans that we’ve vaccinated with at least their first dose, and I’m pretty excited about that,” Veterans Health Administration Acting Under Secretary for Health Dr. Richard Stone said during GovernmentCIO Media and Research’s virtual event Thursday.

The joint Defense Department-VA EHR system went live Oct. 24 at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.

The initiative is a major shift within VA health IT that is poised to support both continuity of care and telehealth programs for veterans. The transition was scheduled to take place over a 10-year period that would have ended in 2028. The new system connects VA medical facilities with DOD, Coast Guard and other care providers. Cerner is currently building the new system, which replaces VA’s current system, Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA).

“Cerner supports the decision by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a strategic program review,” said Brian Sandager, general manager of Cerner Government Services. “Our number one priority remains the Veterans we serve and delivering solutions that drive the transformation of care across the VA. As committed partners, we welcome and value the opportunity to review the program and share lessons learned as we continue to deliver seamless care for our nation’s 18 million Veterans and service members.”

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