Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cerner lands Veterans Affairs EHR contract

Dive Brief:

  • Cerner has been awarded the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) next-generation EHR contract.
  • The VA system will be known as MHS Genesis, employing a core of Cerner's Millennium EHR product.
  • “I’m pleased to say we are finally taking steps to finally solve this situation once and for all," President Donald Trump was quoted in Healthcare IT News”The records will now be able to follow the veteran as they leave service. Meaning, faster, better and far better quality care.”

Dive Insight:

This is another win for Cerner, which is still benefiting big from winning the $4.3 billion contract for the Department of Defense in 2015. The VA has been getting pressure from Congress and the industry to move away from its homegrown EHR, VistA, for years. A commercial product was thought to be a better choice.

VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin noted in his statement over the decision that the DoD acquisition process took about 26 months. "[F]or the reasons of the health and protection of our veterans, I have decided that we can’t wait years, as DoD did in its EHR acquisition process, to get our next generation EHR in place," Shulkin wrote.

Interoperability, the perennial topic du jour regarding data liquidity, made a strong showing for Shulkin's decision. He noted while VA and DoD have experienced interoperability for many aspects of the health records for veterans, more work can and needs to be done.  "[T]he bottom line is we still don’t have the ability to trade information seamlessly for our veteran patients and seamlessly execute a share plan of acre with smooth handoffs," he wrote. "Without improved and consistently implemented national interoperability standards, VA and DoD will continue to face significant challenges if the departments remain on two different systems."

Having the federal agencies able to sync up on the same EHR platform will be a large improvement in the ability to smoothly share data. Some industry organizations were applauding the decision for interoperability's sake. CHIME CEO and President Russell Branzell said "Secretary Shulkin's announcement underscores the importance of achieving nationwide interoperability, highlighting many of the challenges experienced by healthcare CIOs today. I was pleased to hear that Secretary Shulkin consulted healthcare leaders, including hospitals CIOs, as he arrived at his decision to join the Department of Defense (DoD) in moving toward a single EHR system from enlistment through retirement."

“The Department of Veterans Affairs’ selection of Cerner to develop its electronic health records system is wonderful news for U.S. veterans and their families," said Dr. David C. Kibbe, President and Chief Executive Officer of DirectTrust. "The choice of Cerner as its EHR makes is that much more convenient and economical for Direct exchange and messaging to become a major source of interoperable health information exchange between the federal agencies, particularly the Defense Department and the VA medical facilities, and hospitals and medical clinics in the private sector using Direct exchange through their own EHRs,” 

Shulkin made the decision before the July 1 commitment date the agency was shooting for. Still, more work will need to be done. Shulkin stated other vendors, VA clinicians and academic affiliates and community partners will all need to be engaged in the implementation to ensure success.

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