VA to use DOD's electronic medical records system

06 June, 2017, 06:35 | Author: Clay Erickson
  • VA will adopt a Cerner EHR like DoD

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the top Democrat on Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee, was supportive of Shulkin's announcement but his spokesman said he has some questions and concerns about timing and costs that the secretary did not answer.

VA Secretary David Shulkin announced the award today, saying that Cerner's work with the Department of Defense shows it is the right firm to modernize record-keeping at the VA.

The VA is looking to the Defense Department not only for the EHR itself, but for the security around it. Shulkin said his department will use the Defense Department's cybersecurity "architecture, tools and processes", which keep data physically and digitally separated from commercial clients.

In doing so, Shulkin signed a "Determination and Findings" form that allows the VA to bypass its requirement for full and open competition from EHR vendors.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will overhaul its medical records technology in an effort to streamline its procedures and improve care for veterans.

The VA has announced an 11 a.m. news conference for Monday with Shulkin. "This is one of the biggest wins for our veterans in decades, and I congratulate Secretary Shulkin for making this very, very important decision". "So that's why this is so important", said Shulkin. The VA's use of a Cerner EHR will ensure "seamless care between the departments", he said.

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President Donald Trump is promising that this will "be a big day for our Veterans".

Shulkin's statement said he was "committed to getting VA out of the software business, that I didn't see remaining in that business as benefiting Veterans".

One veterans organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said it will closely watch implementation of the new system. "And for that reason, VA, while it's adopting an identical EHR to DoD, needs additional capabilities to maximize interoperability with our community providers".

The value of the contract is unknown - the details of the agreement will be worked out in coming weeks - but it's thought to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Shulkin said the choice to move forward with the next-generation system was a commitment he made since the president selected him for his position as VA secretary, adding that the current VistA system has always been in need of major modernization to stay up to date with improvements in IT and cybersecurity. "No more complications. The records will now be able to follow the veteran when they leave service - meaning faster, better, and far better quality care", he said.

In moving the Cerner Millennium-based MHS Genesis system, patient data for active-duty service members and veterans alike can "now reside in a common system, so you will have this seamless link between departments without the manual exchange of information", said Shulkin. That liminal period, after active duty but "before you get enrolled either in VA healthcare or community healthcare", can be unsafe to vulnerable veterans.

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