The New Office Coordinating The VA's EHR Implementation

In a longstanding search for efficiency, the Department of Veterans Affairs chose Cerner in 2018 to provide EHR capabilities for the agency, moving away from a custom platform.  Given the size of the VA, this is no small transition, with an anticipated $16B price tag and 10 years predicted for the implementation.  The plan is to roll out a small pilot program in 2020 and go live at all locations by 2028.  The goal is to have a system that will be interoperable with the DoD and community care providers, reducing manual data entry and providing a seamless transition for servicemembers moving from active duty to Veteran status.

The transition is unique because of its scale.  With 30 million patients, 1,700 sites, and 300,000 employees at the VA alone, the transformation resembles nothing in healthcare the US has seen before.

To make this implementation successful, the government has created the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) office.  This new office will replace the Interagency Program Office, and will collaborate with both the VA and the DoD.

One of the biggest roadblocks that those working on the project have run into is the slow speed of decision making. In theory, this new body should alleviate these concerns, but lawmakers are skeptical.  For starters, directors of FEHRM have yet to be named, even in an interim status.  The chair of the Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), expressed that this new office may be little more than a name change, seeing no accountability or governance measures in place to ensure its success.

Accountability and governance have been talking points regarding this initiative for months, as a September hearing showed that officials and Congress weren’t on the same page in terms of who exactly is responsible for the governance of the plan.  Representatives indicated that the Interagency Program Office (IPO) is mandated by law to be the accountability center between the VA and DoD’s efforts while the VA claims that IPO has no decision-making authority over the entity.

Anyone working at a healthcare organization that has undergone an EHR change can tell you that it’s a lengthy process that requires buy-in throughout the organization to be successful.  The longer these uncertainties remain in this military EHR modernization, the more likely it is that the established timeframes will be missed, Veteran care will suffer, and the taxpayer will be on the hook for increased costs.

Whichever EHR your organization implements, Extract would like to be there to automate your incoming document workflows.  Whether you decide on Cerner, Epic, or any other system, we can automatically retrieve the data on your documents and send it to the patient record.  If you’d like to learn more about how we can power your EHR with data that arrives faster and more accurately, please reach out today.

About the Author: Chris Mack

Chris is a Marketing Manager at Extract with experience in product development, data analysis, and both traditional and digital marketing.  Chris received his bachelor’s degree in English from Bucknell University and has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  A passionate marketer, Chris strives to make complex ideas more accessible to those around him in a compelling way.