Getty Images/iStockphoto

Democratic Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Revamp VA EHRM Management

The IT Modernization Improvement Act would require VA to contract for an independent assessment of four IT programs, including the EHRM.

Democratic lawmakers on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs have introduced two bills that aim to revamp how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approaches the management of IT, including the EHR modernization project, according to reporting from FedScoop.

Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL) proposed the Manage VA Act and the VA IT Modernization Improvement Act.

The Manage VA Act would create a VA undersecretary for management if enacted. The legislators said this role would help consolidate acquisition and IT functions across the agency.

On the other hand, the IT Modernization Improvement Act would require VA to contract for an independent verification and validation assessment of four IT modernization programs: the EHRM, supply chain modernization, financial management and business transformation, and veterans benefits management system.

“While I am encouraged by President Biden’s and Secretary McDonough’s efforts to make investments in our veterans a top priority in recent years, it is time we also invest in making sure that veterans and taxpayers are getting what they pay for – a modernized and efficiently managed VA,” Takano, who serves as ranking member on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told the news outlet.

“My two bills will bolster accountability at VA by requiring outside verification and validation assessments of major IT modernization programs and by establishing an Under Secretary for Management to help consolidate and standardize business functions – from acquisition to IT – across VA,” he continued. “I hope this is the beginning of a bigger discussion about making VA work better for veterans and moving VA healthcare into the future.” 

Details of the legislative proposals come after FedScoop reported in February that Democratic lawmakers were working on “comprehensive” plans to reform the VA’s EHRM program as an alternative to Republican bills that sought to scrap the troubled implementation.

The Oracle Cerner EHR system has faced performance issues since its deployment at five VA locations in October 2020, with repeated outages that have resulted in severe harm to veterans.

In a recent briefing on March 15, 2023, VA officials informed the Senate committee staff of six "catastrophic harm" incidents, including four veteran deaths, linked to patient safety issues with the EHRM.

While the root causes of the deaths were not provided, the Oracle Cerner EHR system has been linked to patient safety problems, including prescription processing, medication management, clinical referrals, and identifying patients at risk of suicide.

Next Steps

Dig Deeper on Heathcare policy and regulation

Cloud Computing
Mobile Computing