VA Reveals Next Steps at Electronic Health Record Kickoff Event

VA Reveals Next Steps at Electronic Health Record Kickoff Event
Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Two VA health systems in Washington state and the Patient Accounting Office will be the first facilities to test VA's new electronic health record (EHR), MOAA learned at the VA's Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) kickoff event in Kansas City, Mo. The event was hosted by the Cerner Corp., the prime contractor for the development and implementation of the VA's new electronic health record (EHR).

EHR replaces the VA's current patient record system, VISTA. This new record system is interoperable with DoD's new system, which is currently being deployed at selected military treatment facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

At the kickoff event, the new Secretary of the VA, Robert Wilkie and other leaders stressed how important this modernization effort is for the VA of the future, noting the massive project will result in cultural and organizational change. The goal is improved and efficient coordination of care for current and future veterans. One longitudinal health record will exist starting on day one of a service member's enlistment and continue through veteran status.

MOAA has long supported a joint DoD/VA health record system, which provides for the seamless documentation of medical care.

The VA's EHR deployment is independent of DoD. The VA deployment has much broader and more complex requirements than DoD's in order to meet the needs of the multigenerational and older veteran population in VA's health system. It is slated to commence this fall, also starting with Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 20 in the Pacific Northwest. These first sites have been selected to test the new EHR system, and will help the VA to identify efficiencies, standardize processes, and optimize workflows. The initial facilities include a variety of size and scope, such as:

  • Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (Spokane, Wash.)
    • Includes two inpatient facilities, seven outpatient and retail pharmacies, seven emergency and urgent care facilities, and two operating rooms
  • Puget Sound Healthcare system and American Lake Division (Lakewood, Wash.)
    • Includes six inpatient facilities, 11 outpatient and retail pharmacies, 11 emergency and urgent care facilities, and six operating rooms
  • Patient Accounting Offices
    • Patient accounting offices are congressionally mandated offices that consolidate traditional Veteran Health Administration business office functions into seven regional centers across the U.S.

The timeline shared at the event, shows the initial operating capability starting in October 2018, and completing sometime in 2027. The cost estimation currently stands at $16 billion. There have been recent organizational changes within the Office of the EHR Modernization and MOAA hopes there will be no impact on the roll out and timeline.

DoD and the VA are working closely together and sharing lessons learned through DoD's implementation and change management experience. This gives the VA some advantage as they roll out their EHR.