Fiscal 2023 Budget Includes $1.8B for VA Cerner EHRM Project

If approved by lawmakers, the budget would provide VA with an additional $1.8 billion for its EHRM and $5.8 for the Office of Information Technology.

The fiscal 2023 budget would provide the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an additional $1.8 billion for its Cerner EHR modernization (EHRM) project.

If approved by lawmakers, the budget would also provide VA's Office of Information Technology with an additional $5.8 billion to support cybersecurity, financial management transformation, claims automation, and the infrastructure readiness program, according to the White House.

The funding comes as VA wrestles with technical issues that have plagued the EHRM rollout.

On March 3, the department took the Cerner EHR system offline at VA's Mann-Grandstaff medical center in Spokane, Washington, after finding a technical defect in a software update.

Last week, VA and EHR vendor Cerner announced that they would perform a "full root cause analysis" and establish an action plan to prevent further outages after a software bug affected the EHR system at the Mann-Grandstaff VA hospital.

The software bug resulted in a system mixup of certain patient records, leading staff at the VA hospital and associated clinics in Washington and Idaho to revert to paper records.

Additionally, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released a trio of reports that identified significant patient safety concerns.

OIG reported that the EHR implementation has presented technical challenges for clinical documentation and referral management that have put patient safety at risk.

In particular, the report found that data migration errors led to inaccuracies in patient demographic information such as name, gender, and contact information.

OIG also noted that clinical documentation processes have posed challenges to end-users, including creating additional work and limiting providers' ability to code patient diagnoses correctly.

Several lawmakers have called on VA to postpone further EHR implementations until the department resolves patient safety concerns in Spokane.

"After hearing from the VA Office of Inspector General, it's clear to me that VA is not ready for go-live of the EHR system at the VA Medical Center in Walla Walla, and we need to put a pause on this rollout right now," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a statement last week.

Despite concerns, VA went through with its EHR implementation in Walla Walla on March 26. In a press briefing last week, Donald Remy, VA deputy secretary, said that the EHR implementation in Spokane has given the department the tools to address issues as they arise in Walla Walla.

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