In a letter sent to Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie said the COVID-19 pandemic “has shifted the overall priorities” of the VA – and that the department would delay its ongoing EHR modernization as a result.
“Our priority is the care of veterans and providing surge capabilities for civilian health care systems,” said Wilkie. “With VA medical centers reallocating staff to manage Veteran patients with COVID-19, I directed the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM) to immediately shift to a non-intrusive posture with VA health care operations to allow our frontline clinicians to focus on Veteran care.”
He emphasized that the VA is still committed to rolling out a modernized EHR system and is working closely with Cerner, the Department of Defense, the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization Office and other stakeholders to chart an eventual path forward.
Wilkie also offered a progress report for the implementation at Spokane, Washington-based Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, which he said is 99% complete.
“We have completed interface design, build, connectivity, and technical testing for all 72 interfaces required to support go-live,” he said. “Additionally, we are pleased to report that the Joint Health Information Exchange between VA and DoD remains on track for activation and delivery at the end of April 2020.”
In a statement submitted to Healthcare IT News, a Cerner spokesperson said the company supports the VA’s decision and that its “top priority is to support our clients who are on the frontlines fighting COVID-19.”
He added that Cerner is “actively working with VA to reassess and revise deployment timelines while pushing forward on critical elements of the program including but not limited to: launching the new joint HIE, technical build, interfaces, IP and program management – keeping EHRM on track for a successful go-live.”
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