VA delays Ohio EHR implementation amid COVID-19 surge

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 will delay the rollout of its new electronic health record (EHR) system because of surging COVID-19 cases at its medical network in central Ohio.

In a statement on Friday, the VA said it had decided to pause implementation across the Central Ohio Healthcare System after 209 employees contracted the virus and were unable to work.

The system will now go live at the location April 30 instead of the previously set date of March 5.

Ohio is the latest location set to receive the new technology after a previous rollout out at the Mann-Grandstaff medical center in Spokane, Washington, which was beset with problems.

As of Jan. 13, the COVID-19 positivity rate within the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System’s 15-county service area was 34.9%. The number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio’s Franklin County rose by 153% over the last 14 days.

News of the delay follows previous reports of a detailed rollout timeline, which showed that the new system is expected to go live at a range of locations during 2022, including in Washington, Texas and North Carolina.

“A significant number of the workforce at the facility are ‘unable to work,’ doubling the number of employees reporting this status the previous week and one of the largest changes in this status across all VA medical facilities nationwide,” VA said in a statement. “Adding an EHR deployment during this pandemic surge would risk significant impact to health care operations at the facility and the ability of staff to adequately serve Veterans.”

VA added that it will continue to review conditions at upcoming implementation sites to ensure safe deployment.

The department late last year took the decision to forge ahead with implementation of the records system despite lawmakers in November calling on the VA to pause its rollout of the EHR program and instead focus on resolving issues at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center.

Last December, the VA announced that it created two new senior technical management positions to oversee its electronic health record modernization program. That same month, the key technology provider behind the EHR modernization program, Cerner, was acquired by Cloud giant Oracle for $28.3 billion in an all-cash deal.

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Cerner, COVID-19, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), electronic health records (EHRs), Oracle
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