Research System Integration Concerns Could Impact VA Oracle Cerner EHR Rollout

VA recently delayed the Oracle Cerner EHR rollout at an Ann Arbor facility due to concerns about how the health IT would work with the hospital's medical research system.

There may be additional delays in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Oracle Cerner EHR rollout due to concerns over how the health IT interacts with medical research systems, according to reporting from FedScoop.

Last week, VA delayed the EHR rollout at Ann Arbor Healthcare System until late 2023 or early 2024 due to concerns about how well the health IT would integrate with the hospital's medical research mission.

Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA, VA under secretary for health, told the news outlet that other VA hospitals could also experience EHR integration issues with medical research systems.

"There are many VA medical centers that are heavy with clinical research because of their academic affiliations," Elnahal said. "Those centers will need this research functionality. It's not just an issue with the Ann Arbor Hospital."

VA is still working on creating the full EHR deployment schedule, according to Elnahal.

He noted that the agency's use of two EHR platforms has presented security challenges. Most VA hospitals still run on the legacy system, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA).

VA has deployed the new Oracle Cerner EHR to five VA hospitals in the past two years, with more implementations slated for later in 2023.

"Right now, as you know, we're dealing with two different EHRs currently in place in our system, so we have to contend with those risks, instance by instance, and make sure that the entire network is secure," Elnahal said.

The postponement in Ann Arbor is the latest interruption to the EHR rollout as the VA and Oracle work to address patient safety issues with the platform.

​​In June 2022, VA announced it would delay the implementation of its EHR platform to early 2023 to ensure that all issues with the system are resolved before a wider rollout.

Last year, VA's OIG published three reports identifying significant concerns about care coordination and medication management with the EHR system.

One report revealed that the EHR implementation at Mann-Grandstaff improperly routed over 11,000 clinical orders for veterans to an "unknown queue" without clinicians' knowledge.

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