Within the next month, the Veterans Affairs (VA) will award its contract with Cerner Corp. for a new electronic health record (EHR) system, Federal News Radio has reported.
According to the report, VA Secretary David Shulkin, M.D., said in a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee meeting last week, “We released to Congress, to you, a 30-day notice of award of a contract. We are keeping on the timeline that we talked about. We’re marching forward. We have the principles. I have some updates to share with you on the strategic IT plan, because I think we are making a lot of progress with that.”
Shulkin announced in June that VA will replace its aging EHR system, called VistA, by adopting the same platform as the U.S. Department of Defense, a Cerner EHR system. However, the agency also said at the time that while it would be a similar Cerner platform as DoD, it would not be identical, citing the need to create an “integrated” product in order to achieve interoperability with other healthcare provider organizations.
Since then, senators have pushed the agency for a timeline for VA’s Cerner EHR project and for plans to ensure that the technology systems of the VA and DoD will be integrated. In the hearing last week, Shulkin said part of the department’s IT strategic plan will include a sunset of 80 percent of VA’s current projects under development. Indeed, VA will migrate or stop 240 out of 299 current projects, VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour wrote in an email to Federal News Radio.
Regarding cost, recently, the House Appropriations Committee cleared the fiscal year 2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which included $65 million for the modernization of the VA EHR system—for year one alone. Meanwhile, President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal includes $186.5 billion in budget authority for VA in 2018, representing an increase of $6.4 billion, or 3.6 percent from 2017. But according to a report that analyzed the VA section of Trump’s budget request in Federal News Radio, “The budget includes a $215 million cut to IT spending in the department in 2018.”
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