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VA sec'y: New system of electronic health records underway

VA sec'y: New system of electronic health records underway

In selecting Cerner for its EHR system, the VA leaves behind its home-grown VistA EHR, a move that's been on the horizon since Shulkin suggested in March that the department would be moving to a commercial product.

To date, VA and DoD have worked with limited efficiency in two separate EHR applications in an attempt to create a consistent and accurate view of individual medical record information. Shulkin said he decided to make an exception to the rule for full and open competition, signing a "Determination and Findings" form to do so.

"It's time to move forward, and as secretary I was not willing to put this decision off any longer", Shulkin said.

In 2015, the Pentagon awarded the Leidos-Cerner vendor team a 10-year, $4.3 billion contract award to modernize DoD's EHR worldwide.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will overhaul its medical records technology in an effort to streamline its procedures and improve care for veterans. "This is one of the biggest wins for our veterans in decades".

By making the decision to not put the EHR project out to bid and instead "do a direct acquisition of the EHR now being deployed by the Department of Defense", Shulkin said speed and efficiency were among his top motivations.

"Without improved and consistently implemented national interoperability standards, VA and DoD will continue to face significant challenges if the Departments remain on two different systems", he added.

More news: President Trump will announce his decision on the Paris Accord Thursday

Shortly after his confirmation as secretary in February, Shulkin promised he'd announce VA's next steps in modernizing VistA by July - either outsourcing that system to the private sector or adopting a COTS system, like the department has chosen to do.

"The records will now be able to follow the veteran when they leave service, meaning faster, better, and far better quality care", said President Donald Trump at the White House.

One veterans organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said it will closely watch implementation of the new system.

The announcement didn't include references to an implementation timeline for when the fully interoperable system would be working.

"They indicated a strong interest in helping the Department of Veterans Affairs, which I welcomed", he said. But that's no small task: As Shulkin said, ever-changing information sharing standards between the two departments and the separate chains of command, governance, funding and procurement schedules have made any effort to modernize holistically incredibly hard.

Accordingly, under my authority as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, I have signed what is known as a "Determination and Findings", or D&F, that is a special form of written approval by an authorized official that is required by statute or regulation as a prerequisite to taking certain contract actions. "And for that reason, VA, while it's adopting an identical EHR to DoD, needs additional capabilities to maximize interoperability with our community providers".

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