VA Plans to Resume Oracle Cerner EHR Modernization in Summer 2024

At a recent House hearing, VA and Oracle Cerner officials said they expect to restart the agency’s $10 billion EHR modernization in the summer of 2024.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and EHR vendor Oracle Cerner are planning to resume the agency’s EHR modernization in the summer of 2024, according to reporting from FedScoop.

In April, VA paused the EHR rollout due to ongoing concerns regarding patient safety and system reliability.

“In the summer of 2024, we should be having, and even before that, we should be having real discussions about whether we’re ready to move forward with [the EHRM] restart,” Neil Evans, MD, acting program executive director of the VA’s EHRM Office, said during a House Appropriations Oversight hearing on implementation of the EHRM project.

Mike Sicilia, executive vice president at Oracle, agreed with Evans at the hearing.

“I would concur with Dr. Evans’ time frame,” Sicilia said. “It seems to me next summer we should be in a position, particularly if the go-live is trending well in March, that we should be in a position to resume [the rollout]. That is our expectation.”

Evans and Sicilia said that Denis McDonough, VA secretary, will make the final decision next year regarding the EHR deployment timeline.

VA uses the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) EHR platform across most of its hospitals. The department implemented the Oracle Cerner EHR at just five facilities before pausing rollout at additional sites.  

Evans said there are significant challenges in having two different EHR platforms across the agency rather than one central, functioning EHR system.

“I wake up every day wondering, are we moving in this direction?” he said. “We don’t want to stay in reset forever. In fact, I would argue that we’re at higher risk the longer we maintain a healthcare system that’s running two different electronic healthcare systems. So we need to feel an urgency to move forward with a single electronic health record system.”

Several members of Congress expressed frustration that VA and Oracle Cerner were not moving quickly enough to improve the EHR while spending billions in taxpayer dollars.

“$10 billion dollars of taxpayer dollars. What the hell has that gotten us? What if we cut funding? What if next year it was zero? Would that light a fire in terms of fixing this program?” Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) said at the hearing.

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