Senator Questions Deputy Secretary Nominee on VA EHRM Oversight

The renegotiated VA EHRM contract includes “30-times stronger penalties” for Oracle Cerner, according to VA deputy secretary nominee Tanya J. Bradsher.

At a recent hearing, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committees, questioned VA deputy secretary nominee Tanya J. Bradsher on how she will manage the EHR modernization (EHRM) project if confirmed in the role.

The Oracle Cerner EHR, which VA has deployed at five sites since 2020, has caused patient safety issues and increased clinician burden.

“The staff in Spokane and Walla Walla, where EHR has been deployed, has really worked hard and tirelessly to learn this new system—and as you know, it has really put a strain on providers and on our veterans,” Murray said. “They are the current experts on this system, but I continue to hear from people on the ground, in my communities, that their feedback is not being taken into account or even heard.”

Bradsher agreed with Murray, acknowledging that clinicians have not seen their comments executed within the EHR.

“We have to ensure that our veterans get the healthcare record they need… First and foremost, going out, boots on the ground, is how I’ve always led,” she said. “Go to all five sites, listen to our veterans, do listening sessions, along with listening to our clinicians.”

Bradsher noted that the EHRM reset announced in April that has paused additional EHR implementations will help VA incorporate clinician recommendations into the system.

“We have the opportunity now—with the reset of the five sites—to make sure that we’re able to incorporate those recommendations, enterprise-wide and ensure that we hold [Oracle Cerner] accountable so that those changes actually happen,” Bradsher said.

Murray asked Bradsher to explain how, if confirmed, she would use her oversight role during the EHRM reset to improve the EHR system.

Bradsher said that VA’s renegotiated contract with Oracle Cerner has “30-times stronger penalties.” The new agreement also includes five one-year contracts instead of one five-year term like the previous one.

“That allows us to hold them accountable each year and to make sure that we set those markers that we need for them and then go to the next contract,” Bradsher said.

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