VA Launches Third Cerner EHR Implementation in Columbus

The EHR modernization (EHRM) project is back on track following the recent EHR implementation at a VA facility in Columbus, Ohio.

VA Central Ohio Healthcare System and its community-based outpatient clinics have moved forward with the Cerner EHR implementation, marking the third rollout of the VA’s $16 billion Cerner EHR modernization (EHRM) project.

The Cerner EHR system will replace the more than 30-year-old software that tracks and stores patient information with a single platform.

The EHR is set to deploy at several VA Central Ohio Healthcare System facilities, including its VA clinics in Grove City, Marion, Newark, and Zanesville, Ohio.

“This electronic health record rollout is an important step in our progress toward a single instance of a medical record connecting VA,” Terry Adirim, MD, the executive director of the EHR Modernization Integration Office, said in the press release. “The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Coast Guard that will provide all our patients with seamless care from active duty to Veteran status.”

“With each VA site that adopts this system, we gain momentum. The lessons we carry forward from site to site are refining our rollouts and improving end-user experiences,” Adirim added.

The department has made significant improvements with its new EHR program since the first system launched the EHR in Spokane, Washington, the press release stated.

The EHRM project has undergone several pauses and delays due to patient safety concerns and system outages.

On March 3, the department had the EHR system offline after discovering a technical defect which resulted in a system mix-up of certain patient records.

Earlier in the year, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released several reports that noted "serious deficiencies and failures" with the Cerner EHR at the VA  EHRM pilot site in Spokane.

In particular, the report found that data migration errors led to inaccuracies in patient demographic information such as name, gender, and contact information.

A 2021 OIG audit, found the VA and Cerner failed to adequately train employees at the pilot site before deploying the EHR at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane.

In response to the criticism, the department has added more computer-based instruction to provide users with more flexibility and autonomy to meet their training needs, the VA said.

Additionally, the department increased over-the-shoulder support during the “go-live " period by enlisting help from “super-users” facility staff with an advanced understanding of the system.

VA Deputy Secretary Donald Remy heard firsthand accounts of how the EHR has improved the efforts of VHA employees during a visit to Washington state last week.

The VA remains committed to getting this right for Veterans and continuing with the scheduled EHR rollout, the press release stated.

The subsequent rollout of the new EHR system is scheduled for June 11 at the Roseburg VA Health Care System in Roseburg, Oregon, and VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City, Oregon.

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