FEHRM Hits Milestone With Half of MHS Providers Using Oracle Cerner EHR

While VA has delayed upcoming Oracle Cerner EHR implementations until June 2023, the Defense Health Agency is progressing on the FEHRM project.

The Defense Health Agency implemented the federal Oracle Cerner EHR system to 18 more military hospital and clinic commands on September 24 as part of the Federal EHR Modernization (FEHRM) project, according to reporting from Health.mil.

More than half of all Military Health System (MHS) providers are now using the EHR system, MHS GENESIS, which is the centerpiece of a larger transformation to standardize, integrate, and manage health data across the DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

"This is a significant milestone for the single, common, federal EHR, and I couldn't be more excited on where the federal EHR will take us," Bill Tinston, director of the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization Office, told the news outlet.

"We know the technology works," Tinston added. "Our partnership with the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the US Coast Guard in deploying the federal EHR is enhancing the patient and provider experience."

Air Force Col. Thomas Cantilina, deputy functional champion for MHS GENESIS, noted that the EHR implementation will support patient-centered care.

"Since its initial deployment, DOD has conducted multiple upgrades, stabilization, and adoption changes, and thousands of configuration changes to better serve beneficiaries, in both garrison and soon operational settings," Cantilina said.

While VA has delayed upcoming EHR implementations until June 2023 to address system challenges, the DHA is on track and plans to have MHS GENESIS live at 138 military hospital and clinic commands worldwide by the end of 2023.

"We're continuing our deployments," Holly Joers, Defense Healthcare Management Systems Program Executive Officer, told reporters during a press briefing.

"We'll be complete with our deployments of 2023. We are in the same system as VA. So, as they continue, they always had planned a longer deployment schedule, given the number of sites that they have. So, no, that doesn't impact our ability going forward from a DOD perspective."

Even though DoD officials urged that VA EHR delays will likely not have a major impact on the agency's deployment schedule, they still addressed concerns related to VA outages and patient safety.

In response to an OIG draft report that revealed that a flaw in the Cerner EHR caused 148 cases of harm, DoD officials explained that they will be identifying opportunities to improve upon to reduce the possibility of patient harm.

"With any IT system, we do have to look at disruptions to service — we take them very seriously," said Joers. "But in terms of outages from a healthcare perspective, we have processes and procedures to ensure that healthcare operations can continue in the event that there is any downtime."

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