Health IT

VA delays Cerner health record deployment

health data (Supphachai Salaeman/ 

The Department of Veterans Affairs is delaying the rollout of its $16 billion health record modernization project so that the health system serving 9 million veterans can focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

VA's decision tracks with a move at the Department of Defense to suspend new installations of its MHS Genesis health record software during the coronavirus response.

"With VA medical centers reallocating staff to manage Veteran patients with COVID-19, I directed the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM) to immediately shift to a non-intrusive posture with VA health care operations to allow our frontline clinicians to focus on Veteran care," VA Secretary Robert Wilkie wrote in an April 3 letter to congressional leaders.

That means the planned go-live for the Cerner system at VA's Mann-Grandstaff facility in Spokane, Wash., is on pause for the time being. Wilkie did note that there is back-end technical work that can proceed even during the pandemic response.

"VA will provide future updates when we have better visibility on when our health care personnel can resume working on the EHRM program regionally and nationally," he told lawmakers.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear reason to postpone given the critical need to have [Electronic Health Record Modernization] staff on the frontlines in the fight against coronavirus," Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Suzie Lee (D-Nev.) said in a joint statement. "But as this emergency passes, we must make sure that VA does not lose sight of the need for strong employee engagement. Failure to communicate with these employees was a significant factor that contributed to the initial implementation delay. Congress stands ready to support VA throughout this crisis and the delays in EHRM implementation."

Takano chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Lee chairs a subcommittee focused on the health record project.

The Mann-Grandstaff go-live date had previously been delayed because of software and configuration issues. That launch had tentatively been slated for July.


About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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