Health IT

VA on the fence about homegrown patient portal

Myhealthevet screengrab 

The My HealtheVet tool used by more than 3 million veterans to access care and data at the Department of Veterans Affairs could be retired in favor of a tool from vendor Cerner as part of the agency's $16 billion electronic health record software upgrade.

"I can confirm that that is an ongoing discussion," John Windom, executive director of the VA's Office of Electronic Health Records Modernization (OEHRM), said in a Sept. 30 House hearing.

VA approved a task order to deploy a Cerner tool called MyVAHealth for use in facilities using the Cerner Millennium electronic health record, which has an initial rollout coming soon, and will be implemented nationwide on a rolling schedule over the next 10 years, replacing VA's Vista health record.

Windom told lawmakers on the Subcommittee on Technology Modernization of the House Veterans Affairs Committee that Cerner's patient portal is going to be running in tandem with MyHealtheVet as part of the go-live activity at the Mann-Grandstaff facility in Spokane scheduled for Oct. 24. The move affects 88,000 patients, who will have option to use Cerner's portal or the VA tool.

"I have major concerns about the parallel operation of two different veteran facing portals," subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) said in her opening remarks.

Windom explained that the replacement of MyHealtheVet "is not in the scope" of the Cerner contract.

"We are not funded to replace MyHealtheVet," he said. "We have estimates in order to make modification to MyHealtheVet as being discussed, and they range from $60 million to $300 million. That's not in scope."

Additionally, the systems aren't meant to run in parallel with veterans offered a choice of which one to access, Dr. Laura Kroupa, the chief medical officer of OEHRM, said. Veterans getting care and service in Spokane will be defaulted to the Cerner portal when they click on a link from the VA.gov homepage; everyone else will go to the MyHealtheVet portal.

Travis Dalton, president of Cerner Government Services, told lawmakers that the company was "agnostic" about whether it uses its own portal for the VA health record or if it integrates MyHealtheVet through application programming interfaces.

"We're not focused on a solution set from Cerner necessarily for the veteran," Dalton said. "I think alternatives long term are still being evaluated."

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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