VA Appoints Functional Champion for EHR Modernization Program

The new functional champion appointment will assist the VA EHR Modernization program as it struggles with implementation delays and cost overruns, the VA stated.

The Department for Veterans Affairs (VA) has named David Massaro, MD, as a functional champion for its EHR Modernization program, according to reporting from FedScoop.

The industry leader started off his VA career in 2006 as a practicing physician for the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan.

As time went on, Massaro accepted new challenges and took on more executive positions, VA officials stated. Previously, he was the acting chief health informatics officer in the Office of Community Care within VA’s Office of Health Informatics.

Under this new role as EHRM functional champion, Massaro will be coordinating the development and implementation of the modernization program across VA offices.

“We are pleased to have Dr. David Massaro serve as the Functional Champion for VA’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) Modernization efforts within the EHRM-Integration Office,” Terry Adirim, MD, program executive director of VA’s EHR Modernization Integration Office, said.

“Dr. Massaro was selected due to his commitment to deploying an electronic health record that enables VHA to function as a High Reliability Organization and Learning Health System that places the Veteran first,” Adirim explained.

This latest appointment comes as VA attempts to address issues regarding the EHR modernization project.

Lawmakers have spoken out about the project’s implementation delays, patient safety hiccups, and rising costs.

Some members of Congress, including Representative Mike Bost, R-IL, have serious doubts about whether the project should even continue.

“If we don’t see major progress by early next year, when VA says they intend to roll [the effort] out to larger sites, we will have to seriously consider pulling the plug,” Bost said.

“I hope the situation can somehow be turned around,” Bost continued. “But everyone involved in this needs to understand that the consequences are real, and that there are no blank checks.”

Officials from Oracle Cerner have said that many problems with system integration were expected and reparable.

"While I fully appreciate substantial challenges exist – all of which are legitimate and understandable – the fact is that more is working than is not," said Mike Sicilia, executive vice president of Oracle. "There is nothing here that can't be addressed in reasonably short order."

The federal government has made some moves to increase efficiency and save the project from termination.

In June, President Biden signed a bill into law requiring VA to provide Congress with periodic reports regarding EHRM program progress and costs to enhance transparency.

Within 90 days of the law’s signing, Every quarter, VA must provide quarterly cost reports to congressional committees. VA must continue to do so until 90 days after the EHRM project has been fully implemented.

In late 2021, several roles were created to enhance program management and coordination. One of the new appointments was Adirim, who became the executive program director of the EHR office. 

VA also created a position for Program Executive Director (PED) for EHR Integration. The PED has operational control over the offices of Functional Champion, Technical Integration and Program Management, all dedicated to the success of the EHR effort.

“We will do everything we can to get electronic health records right for Veterans and our healthcare staff, with patient safety being the key driver and nonnegotiable,” VA Deputy Secretary Donald M. Remy said regarding the VA’s 2021appointments.

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