Cerner execs to VA Congressional committee: “We are committed to getting this right”

Two Cerner executives had their say in testimony to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week, and they hung on by, presumably, their fingernails in their commitment to having working tests and a workable rollout of the Cerner Millenium system. This will replace the warhorse VistA system in use for decades in the VA, but incompatible with the Department of Defense’s Cerner MHS Genesis and earlier EHRs in use in military care facilities.

The EHR implementation, which is at last report costing $16 billion, failed miserably at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington in late 2020 into this year. The three-month review of the program “raises more questions than it answers,” said Committee Chair Frank Mrvan, D-Indiana. Other members concurred in being less than impressed by Cerner. Ranking Member Matt Rosendale, R-Montana, wasn’t interested in “shoveling more money into a flawed program just to keep the paychecks flowing.”

However, Brian Sandager, senior vice president and general manager of Cerner government services, pointed out that wait times at Mann-Grandstaff, with nearly 70% of veterans seen within 15 minutes of their scheduled appointment time, with urgent care patients seen within 13 minutes of arrival. Opioid treatments were flagged for alternative treatments. HealthcareITNews   Our earlier coverage here.

Cerner Government Services has a great deal riding on the successful implementation of the VA contract, including their extensive government work with DOD on MHS Genesis and other healthcare organizations within the US Government, including those listed on their website: the US Coast Guard, CDC, HHS, and CMS. 

GAO tells VA to postpone Cerner EHR implementation–but VA will be continuing

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is still in the long rollout of the Cerner/Leidos EHR system to replace their home-grown, once groundbreaking VistA and to be interoperable with the Department of Defense’s Cerner Millenium system. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report (PDF link) that concludes that “VA should postpone deployment of its new EHR system at planned locations until any resulting critical and high severity test findings are appropriately addressed.” These potential system failure points were brought up by GAO to Congress last October at the time of the first implementation in Spokane, Washington. The sidebar on GAO’s report states that VA agreed with the postponement, but a news report in FedScoop indicates that VA believes, per their comments in the report, that:

  • VA and Cerner have resolved the major issues (down to 55 from close to 400)
  • They will resolve the rest by January 2022
  • They will proceed with the scheduled rollout to the VA’s Puget Sound Health Care System in Q4 2021.

Hat tip to HISTalk, which managed to summarize this in seven short sentences (!).