VA Secretary says Oracle-Cerner EHR rollout will not continue until patient safety risks are addressed

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on March 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Monday that the rollout of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new electronic health records system will not continue until all patient safety risks with the platform are addressed.

Responding to reporters’ questions Monday at an event hosted by the Defense Writers Group, McDonough clarified that the department is looking very closely at the go-live, and that it is working through an implementation check list for each hospital set to receive the new system.

“I think we’ve been clear that we have to be confident that these risks to patient safety are addressed before we go live. So we’re not just focused on the passage of time between now and next year, we’re focused on improving the system,” McDonough said.

The VA earlier this year in June its plans to delay moving forward with the rollout of its problem plagued Oracle Cerner-operated electronic health record platform to early 2023 from 2022.

At that time, a VA spokesperson said the EHR system would be delayed at American Lake and Seattle VA medical centers to March 2023, which make up the VA’s Puget Sound Health Care System. This pushed back implementation by seven months from the previously scheduled August 2022 deployment.

The decision to defer implementation at the four sites follows the publication of details about a draft watchdog report that found at least 148 veterans were harmed during the department’s rollout of the system at a health center in Spokane, Washington.

“We won’t go to roll out the EHR in any of the other hospitals until we have a go-live checklist addressed and until we have our patient safety concerns [addressed], and then we’ll be in a position to make a decision on rollout,” McDonough said.

The EHR system rollout issues has been plagued by outages — including at the VA’s medical center in Spokane, Washington — that have caused major harm to veterans. The implementation of VA’s new EHR system is expected to be delayed from its original estimates by at least one to two years.

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Cerner, Denis McDonough, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), EHRM, Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM), electronic health records (EHRs), Oracle Cerner, veterans’ affairs
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