Cerner Reassures Lawmakers that VA’s EHRM Implementation Is on Schedule

Published: June 06, 2019

Electronic Health RecordHealth ITVA

During a June 4th Subcommittee on Technology Modernization hearing of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs', Cerner’s Government Services president expressed confidence in VA’s Electronic Health Records Modernization (EHRM) project.

Travis Dalton, president of Cerner Government Services, told the subcommittee that although the project is a huge undertaking, it is achievable. “We must deploy to over 1,700 sites, train over 300,000 VA employees, collaborate with DoD, interoperate with the community, aggregate decades of clinical data and update technology, ” Dalton testified.  Cerner is not taking the challenge lightly.

The VA expects to pilot initial operating capabilities of its new electronic health records platform in March 2020 across three sites in the Pacific Northwest. In May 2019, the House Appropriations Committee approved $1.6B for the VA’s EHRM initiative in FY 2020 as part of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies bill. 

Tuesday executives from Cerner, Leidos and Booz Allen Hamilton appeared before the VA subcommittee to lend their insight to progress on the program thus far. Dalton expressed confidence that the project will meet its initial operating capability (IOC) deadline, stating that 23 million veterans health records have already been migrated into the Cerner data center.  This is the first time that DOD and VA health data has been in the same system, leading the way to further interoperability.

Lawmakers stated that they are still disturbed that there is no central accountability for the combined VA/DOD effort.  There is no principal authority to resolve differences between DOD and VA. VA hasn’t provided a joint governance structure to oversee the EHR project. Lawmakers are concerned that the current DOD/VA Interagency Program Office (IPO) has not been repurposed to serve in this role. Dalton stated that the project requires ongoing DOD and VA collaboration and co-development, which is happening. "[However,] we do need that joint decision-making authority," Dalton said.