VA Suspends Further Oracle Cerner EHR Implementations for EHRM 'Reset'

The EHRM reset aims to help VA focus resources on system optimization at sites where the Oracle Cerner platform is currently used before continuing EHR implementations.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has stopped all further Oracle Cerner EHR implementations as it conducts a “reset” of its EHR modernization (EHRM) project.

VA officials said that during the reset period, the agency will fix the issues with the EHR identified during its recent “assess and address” period and redirect resources to focus on EHR optimization at the sites where it is currently in use.

“We’ve heard from Veterans and VA clinicians that the new electronic health record is not meeting expectations – and we’re holding Oracle Cerner and ourselves accountable to get this right,” Denis McDonough, VA secretary, said in a press release.

“This reset period will allow us to focus on fixing what’s wrong, listening to those we serve, and laying the foundation for a modern electronic health record that delivers for Veterans and clinicians,” McDonough added.

VA will not schedule additional deployments until it is confident that the new EHR is highly functioning at current sites.

Officials said readiness will be demonstrated by:

  • Clear improvements in the clinician and Veteran experience
  • Sustained high performance and high reliability of the system
  • Improved levels of productivity at the sites where the EHR is in use

“For the past few years, we’ve tried to fix this plane while flying it – and that hasn’t delivered the results that Veterans or our staff deserve,” said Neil Evans, MD, acting program executive director of the EHRM integration office. “This reset changes that.”

“We are going to take the time necessary to get this right for Veterans and VA clinicians alike, and that means focusing our resources solely on improving the EHR at the sites where it is currently in use, and improving its fit for VA more broadly,” he added. “In doing so, we will enhance the EHR for both current and future users, paving the way for successful future deployments.”  

The reset follows an extended pause in deployments that began in July 2022 that ended in an “assess and address” period that identified a long list of necessary fixes.

Officials said that VA has begun to work through these and other issues and will work closely with Oracle Cerner to address all the remaining problems.

VA and Oracle Cerner are also working toward an amended contract to increase Oracle Cerner’s accountability to deliver a high-functioning EHR system.

“Oracle is proud to continue working together with VA to modernize its Electronic Health Record system,” Mike Sicilia, Oracle Global Industries executive vice president, wrote in an emailed statement. “We support VA’s plan to improve the operation of the EHR at the current sites and take the necessary time to institute governance, change management and standardization changes to ensure the success of future VA deployments, similar to what DoD did a few years ago.”

“DoD’s modernization is now nearly complete, on time and on budget,” Sicilia added. “We will continue to closely coordinate with VA to provide enhancements and updates to the EHR. We appreciate Secretary McDonough’s leadership on this project and reiterate our commitment to providing VA and our nation’s veterans with an EHR that exceeds expectations.”

VA will also work with Congress on resource requirements as part of the reset. VA estimates FY 2023 costs will be reduced by $400 million. 

The only exception to the full-stop on implementation is the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Chicago, the only fully integrated VA and Department of Defense (DoD) healthcare system. VA expects to deploy the EHR at this site in March 2024.

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