Department of Veterans Affairs Cancels All Work on New Electronic Healthcare Records System
In 2021, we reported on the Department of Veterans Affairs installation of a new electronic health records system, debuting at selected Pacific Northwest sites. The new electronic healthcare records system was intended to help “…improve how physicians store and manage patient information concerning visits, test results, prescriptions, and other crucial information.”
This is all the result of the Department of Veterans Affairs signing a $10 billion contract with Oracle Cerner in 2018 to create an electronic health records system. Not just ANY type of digital recordkeeping, but one that would be specifically compatible with the DoD’s MHS Genesis system.
Earlier in April 2023 we reported the VA as being in the process of “a contract review and is considering its options for accountability and oversight of the project.”
Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs has canceled all work on the new electronic records system. It is entirely possible the VA will scrap the project, which is now said to be worth approximately $16 billion.
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In the Beginning
The Department of Veterans Affairs initial rollout of the system included several locations:
- Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, Spokane, Washington
- Community clinics in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
- Community clinics in Sandpoint, Idaho
- Libby, Montana
- Wenatchee, Washington.
The patients using these facilities were the first to use that new system, accessed by the My VA Health portal, which was meant to “complement to the VA’s current portal, My HealtheVet,” and help veterans to manage appointments, prescription refills, medical records, and communications with healthcare providers.
The New VA Electronic Healthcare Records System Is On Hold
The Department of Veterans Affairs has admitted there were issues with the rollout as it progressed; those issues have resulted (at least in part) in the suspension of its implementation in the healthcare system; it was meant to be used in more locations during the summer of 2023.
Whether or not the installation is allowed to continue may depend on the outcome of the VA review of the contract as mentioned above.
The suspension applies to all future installations, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Training on the electronic records system was initially slated to start in April 2023.
Some describe the delay as a major roadblock in the troubled rollout; other issues, including outages, have been listed by some sources as being harmful to VA patients.
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What Happens Next?
VA leadership pledged not to roll out the new system until they were confident in its abilities to handle the workload; “recent assessments” told the VA the time is wrong to move forward.
Members of the House and Senate have moved to either get rid of or finally correct the system; nothing has advanced to the President’s desk for signature at press time.
As of April 21, 2023, all work on the new records system, including fixes and corrections to the system to make it more VA-compatible, has been ordered to stop. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is a possibility the entire project may be abandoned.
About the author
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.