The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to finally implement its new electronic health records system at a Washington state hospital in October after several delays caused by training issues and the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center will be the first to launch the modernized EHR under the 10-year, $16 billion program, which will establish interoperability of records between the VA and DOD health care systems. The Cerner-built system will replace the legacy Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) that many see as outdated and has resulted in delayed care for veterans. Implementation of the DOD’s EHR system — also developed on Cerner technology — was also delayed by the pandemic.
“We are pleased to have our Electronic Health Record Modernization team resume activities with our facilities to move forward with a program that will transform VA and enhance Veteran care,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
The VA also announced Friday it will be launching the system’s scheduling software at the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System in Columbus by the end of August.
The original go-live date for the Washington site was long-scheduled for March. But the VA pushed it back to July because of staff training challenges. Then the pandemic hit, again disrupting VA’s schedule.
In a letter to Congress earlier this year about the pandemic-induced delay, Wilkie said the back-end of the system was “99 percent” complete for the go-live this summer. Implementing the system requires training both super-users and other medical professionals, who have since had to prioritize pandemic response.
“The new timeline will preserve the 10-year implementation schedule and the overall cost estimates of VA’s EHR modernization program,” the VA’s news release states. After the conversion at Ohio and Washington sites, VA will bring other select facilities forward “in the timeline.”