Oracle-Cerner’s VA and DOD systems were down for 4+ hours on 4 August. The culprit was a corrupted patient database that needed to be fixed and reprogrammed. The problem was likely not minor. An insider source claimed to FedScoop that it could be an indexing problem that could mean that “one patients files could point to a different patients data” (sic) which could be disastrous. The VA statement is verbatim from FedScoop.
VA spokesperson Terrence Hayes said: ““VA experienced a system outage of its electronic health Record system on August 4, 2022, which also affected VA, Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard sites using the Oracle-Cerner EHR. At 12:07 p.m. EDT, Oracle-Cerner received monitoring alerts indicating an issue with one of its databases. The system was taken offline to execute recovery of the database, during which time the sites switched to standard downtime procedures.
He added: “During downtime of the EHR, medical personnel could still care for patients, but documentation occurred on paper. The system was fully restored for all end-users at 4:23 p.m. EDT, for a total downtime of 4 hours and 16 minutes. No data corruption or data loss occurred.”
The VA’s Office of the Inspector General has been busy indeed, in this case tracking down usage of Veterans Health Administration-distributed iPads. These, along with internet service, were distributed to 41,000 qualifying patients during FY 2021 for the VA Video Connect program–to connect Veterans to care during the pandemic when facilities were fully or partially closed. The OIG audit issued 4 August indicates is that less than half were used in the way intended.
- Consults were created for over 56,000 patients. Devices were sent to 41,000 patients.
- 49% of patients–20,300 patients–completed a video appointment
- Over 10,000 patients had a video appointment scheduled, but did not complete the visit for various reasons, such as technical issues or canceled. They did not schedule another virtual appointment.
- If unused in 90 days after issue, the devices were supposed to be taken back. This did not happen with 11,000 devices.
- Going back to November 2021, VHA’s tablet dashboard showed patients did not use nearly 8,300 of those 11,000 devices.
The value of the 8,300 unused devices was $6.3 million with cellular fees of about $78,000. Even more interesting, VHA’s data showed 3,119 patients had multiple devices. In August 2021, VHA ordered 9,720 additional new devices at a cost of $8.1 million, but as of January this year, there was a backlog of 14,800 returned devices that needed refurbishment–not at all atypical given this Editor’s experience years back with the VA and RPM devices.
Recommendations for the program include clarifying the number of days from consult initiation to device order, adding procedures to prevent and retrieve duplicate devices, tracking device packages, creating detailed refurbishment reporting, and using that information to guide new device purchases. Federal News Network