VA Finalizes 10-year EHR Contract with Cerner

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has formally announced a 10-year $10 billion contract with electronic health record (EHR) vendor Cerner, which is also the official EHR vendor for the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The VA’s decision to replace its well-liked VistA system with a Cerner system has been public for over a year, but lacked finalization. Former VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, first announced the contract a year ago before he resigned his position. The contract is one of the largest IT contracts in the federal government, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. VA officials will work with officials from DoD to help streamline the rollout in order to avoid problems that DoD encountered.

Politico reported last week that physicians working for military pilot sites for DoD’s EHR rollout expressed grave concerns about the software. According to Politico, experts who have seen the Pentagon report, which “lists  156 “critical” or “severe” incident reports with the potential to result in patient deaths,” characterize it as “devastating.”

“Traditionally, if you have more than five [incident reports] at that high a level, the program has significant issues,” a testing team member told Politico.

Cerner employees interviewed by Politico claimed the lead partner on the military’s contract, Leidos Health, was to blame for early stumbles with the DoD EHR rollout. For instance, every time a new pilot site went live with the system, other providers on the network were slowed down. But Leidos and Cerner officials say they believe the problems are being addressed and the project is on schedule for its 2022 target completion date.

Mary Butler is the associate editor at Journal of AHIMA.

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