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

Lucy Bush
June 6, 2017

Though the VA has been using in-house electronic record systems, Shulkin said that it was time to move to an off-the-shelf system.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced on June 5 that his agency plans to move its medical records to the same electronic system now used by the Department of Defense.

We have often stated that the VA and the Department of Defense should adopt the same electronic records system to create a seamless transition for those transferring from active duty to veteran status, and we believe this move will improve the continuity of information and timeliness of care for our nation's veterans.

"For these reasons, I have decided that VA will adopt the same EHR system as DoD, now known as MHS GENESIS, which at its core consists of Cerner Millennium".

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The VA determination and findings document for the Cerner deal has not be released publicly that I can find, but the document will have to outline the steps VA took to determine that a no competition approach was in the department's best interest.

Under the proposed change, the VA will work immediately to sign a contract with Cerner Corp., which designed the Pentagon's system known as MHS Genesis. Recordkeeping has been somewhat of a black eye on the Department, something critics have repeatedly attacked as outdated, inefficient, and costly, and to which some veterans have decried as a major obstacle to receiving much-needed medical care.

Shulkin made the announcement at a news conference following a promotional tweet by President Donald Trump that it will "be a big day for our veterans".

"VA's adoption of the same EHR system as DOD will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system", he said, "and enable seamless care between the departments without the manual and electronic exchange and reconciliation of data between two separate systems".

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"I said recently to Congress that I was committed to getting VA out of the software business, that I didn't see remaining in that business as benefitting Veterans", he stated. "This is one of the biggest wins for our veterans in decades".

"This is going to take the cooperation and involvement of many companies and thought leaders", Shulkin said, "and can serve as a model for the federal government and all of health care".

There was no word yet on whether Leidos or others on Cerner's team for the defense department contract will be a part of the VA team.

The announcement didn't include references to an implementation timeline for when the fully interoperable system would be working. The records will now be able to follow the veteran when they leave service, meaning faster and far better quality care.

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Shulkin said the choice to move forward with the next-generation system was a commitment he made since the president selected him for his position as VA secretary, adding that the current VistA system has always been in need of major modernization to stay up to date with improvements in IT and cybersecurity.

Other reports by Info About Network

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