The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is pausing its electronic health record (EHR) modernization program for up to 12 weeks to allow for a thorough “strategic review” to ensure program success.

“A successful EHR deployment is essential in the delivery of lifetime, world-class health care for our veterans,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a press release. “After a rigorous review of our most-recent deployment at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, it is apparent that a strategic review is necessary. VA remains committed to the Cerner Millennium solution, and we must get this right for veterans.”

“Our dedicated VA professionals continue to work feverishly on this effort even as we maneuver through the complexities and surges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” added McDonough.

This delay comes after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report last month that called for the VA to postpone deployment of the system until it resolved existing “critical severity test findings.” GAO warned if VA continued with deployment of additional capabilities at new locations, it would likely identify new critical and high-severity test findings.

The EHR system has been in the making since May 2018, when VA took steps to replace its 30-year old health records system with the new system contracted at $10 billion over 10 years. However, by October 2020, GAO flagged VA had yet to resolve the system’s critical and high- severity test findings which could result in a system failure.

According to the release, the “ongoing analysis of the Mann-Grandstaff Initial Operating Capability (IOC) post-deployment activities” led to the pause in the program. VA said that its Columbus, Ohio, facility is scheduled as the next “go-live” site, but the deployment schedule may be altered due to the strategic review.

“The strategic review will focus on identifying areas for additional productivity and clinical workflow optimization at Mann-Grandstaff and upcoming ‘go-live’ sites, conducting further research into veteran-centered improvements for the patient portal experience, data syndication, and revenue cycle improvements,” VA said in the release.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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