VA creates two new management positions to oversee EHR

The exterior of the Veterans Affairs Hospital is seen November 10, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has created two new senior technical management positions to oversee its electronic health records modernization program.

A new deputy CIO for EHR and a program executive director for EHR integration will work on the $16 billion, 10-year IT system overhaul, according to a VA press release issued Wednesday.

The new program executive director for integration is Dr. Terry Adirim, who is also the acting assistant secretary for health affairs at the Department of Defense. Adirim will report directly to the deputy secretary, the top official overseeing the entire EHR program. The new deputy CIO, who has not be hired yet, will assume all tech integration functions and communication with technical staff at local sites.

In the update Wednesday, VA said also that it had developed a revised timeline for the rollout of the new records management system across the department.

Other changes include a “significantly strengthened” Office of the Functional Champion, which advocates for patient safety within the EHR teams. Several patient safety issues were previously reported at the first site to get the EHR system in Spokane, Washington. Some of the reported issues related to the distribution of medication.

The “OFC will help bridge any divides among IT, the EHR vendor and the care delivery teams to ensure the needs of the practicing clinicians and support staff are met,” according to a release from the VA.

The program’s main contractor, Cerner, has been working to migrate billions of health records from the old Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) to its cloud-based Cerner Millennium system since 2018.

The changes stem from a strategic review overseen by the secretary following several critical Government Accountability and Inspector General reports. The main issue identified by the secretary’s report was a need for stronger oversight and governance of the program, he said at the time.

The DOD is also deploying a new EHR, one that is supposed to eventually be interoperable with the VA’s system.

“We will do everything we can to get electronic health records right for Veterans and our health care staff, with patient safety being the key driver and nonnegotiable,” VA Deputy Secretary Donald M. Remy said in a statement. “I have incorporated the lessons learned I received during my recent meetings with our team at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, into this new way forward.”

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Cerner, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), electronic health records (EHRs)
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