VA Adds Employees to EHR Modernization Project Amidst Pause

This recent hiring by the Department of Veterans Affairs will include product managers to oversee the implementation of the EHR modernization program.

In the midst of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) current EHR implementation delay, the agency has commenced a Silicon Valley hiring spree, bringing on 1,000 new hires to assist with the EHR modernization program among other major digital transformation projects , according to FedScoop reporting.

VA plans to hire employees to assist with transformation efforts, including the update of financial accounting, supply chain, and EHR management systems, in addition to the EHR system.

“The EHR has been, as you rightly point out, a challenging project,” Kurt DelBene, chief information officer of the VA, said to FedScoop. “We are already the largest Oracle Cerner customer in their EHR system. It is also a very complex environment with our medical centers and clinics across the US, and we are stressing Cerner in ways they had not been stressed before.”

New product managers brought in through the hiring scheme will be tasked with overseeing the implementation of Oracle Cerner’s Millennium platform.

“I think [the new EHR hires] will be able to focus our efforts in very clear ways, which is what product managers do great at which is here’s all the issues, here’s the underlying problems around those issues – now let’s get to a plan of attack that actually gets us the fastest possible improvement there,” DelBene said.

Additionally, the VA has brought in several product managers through the hiring scheme who will be assigned to oversee the Oracle Cerner Millennium EHR implementation.

VA expects that a new roster of product managers could help Oracle Cerner be responsible for IT system implementation through aggressive problem-solving.

“Let’s have them define a set of metrics around what great looks like that we’re going to track and we’re going to hold Oracle Cerner accountable for improving their performance as well,” DelBene added.

VA has experienced several EHR implementation pauses since 2019, with this most recent one caused by an influx of EHR outages.

Earlier this year, VA announced a delay in upcoming EHR implementations of its Oracle Cerner system until June 2023 to address system challenges.

“Right now, the Oracle Cerner electronic health record system is not delivering for Veterans or VA health care providers – and we are holding Oracle Cerner and ourselves accountable to get this right,” Donald Remy, deputy secretary of VA, noted in an October press release.

“We are delaying all future deployments of the new EHR while we fully assess performance and address every concern,” he added. “Veterans and clinicians deserve a seamless, modernized health record system, and we will not rest until they get it.”

While executing this “assess and address” plan, the department will continue to focus on the five facilities where the new system has gone live “to ensure every patient is getting the world-class health care they deserve,” officials said.

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