The next step in the rollout of the VA’s new $16 billion electronic health record (EHR) system has been delayed nearly two months because of COVID-related concerns.
The launch of the EHR at the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System now is set for April 30, instead of March 5, the department announced in a Jan. 14 news release. The delay comes about a month after the VA released a comprehensive review of the program along with new rollout plans.
Dozens of facilities will convert to the new system by FY 2024, according to the VA’s new rollout plan. Officials hope the delay in the Ohio rollout will not affect plans to update systems at facilities in the Pacific Northwest this spring, Military Times reported.
MOAA has been active for more than seven years in ensuring oversight of this far-reaching project and other VA modernization efforts via testimony to key lawmakers. This July 2021 piece links to several examples of that testimony.
The VA expects the new EHR to be online by 2028 and to allow the VA and DoD to share records electronically, ending the need for a manual transfer of materials after a servicemember leaves uniform.
More than 200 employees of the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System were “unable to work” as of Jan. 13, per the VA release – double the number from the previous week. The VA attributed staffing problems to a COVID-19 spike in the region, with at least one Ohio county reporting a 150% uptick in positive cases.
“As we see the pandemic surge in the Columbus community, we need to support the medical professionals while they focus their attention on meeting the health care needs of their patients,” Dr. Terry Adirim, program executive director of the Electronic Health Record Modernization Office, said in the release. “EHR deployment activities must be weighed against community health and can be resumed when it is appropriate to do so.”
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