Health informatics

Morale dips on site of new VA electronic health record

Photo credit: Jonathan Weiss /

The morale of clinicians at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Washington is declining due to dissatisfaction with the new Cerner electronic health record system, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to the survey, which was discussed at a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing devoted to agency technology on Tuesday, 83% of employees say their morale has deteriorated since the switchover. Cerner software in October 2020.

A year after the initial launch – the first of the 10-year, $ 21 billion project – only 16% of those surveyed said they were “very confident” in using the Cerner EHR system, 22% said they were “very confident” in using the Cerner EHR system. said they were “neutral” and 62% indicated a lack of confidence in the new software.

Less than 1% of those surveyed said their job satisfaction had improved with the implementation of the new medical record software.

The survey of 833 facility employees, conducted by the VA’s National Center for Organizational Development, found that job satisfaction is getting worse, employees are feeling more exhausted, and more and more employees are wondering. they want to stay with Mann-Grandstaff. The results of the survey were discussed at the hearing, and the main results were shared by a member of the committee staff. A spokesperson for VA said the investigation was conducted for internal purposes and declined to share the full results.

The investigation was conducted as part of a strategic review commissioned by VA Secretary Denis McDonough after a strategic review and a hiatus for further implementations of Cerner software at the agency’s facilities. However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed frustration that the changes suggested by the strategic review have not been implemented.

“The strategic review made sound recommendations for some of the key issues related to [electronic health record], ignored several others, and so far has implemented virtually nothing, ”said Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), the top member of the IT Modernization subcommittee, in his statement opening.

VA Assistant Secretary Donald Remy, the only witness at the hearing, said he believed the Mann-Grandstaff installation was safe, but acknowledged several issues arising from the transition to the new software, including the loss of productivity, data management and governance, a “fragmented” patient portal experience and other issues. The strategic review also identified several management weaknesses.

“Given VA’s past challenge with modernization programs, it is critical that we work together to review and possibly revise the management structure surrounding IT acquisitions in general and IT acquisitions. [Electronic Health Records Modernization] program specifically, ”Representative Mark Takano (D-Cailf.), Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, said at the hearing.

Some changes of direction are already underway. Remy testified that the Office of Electronic Health Records Modernization (OEHRM) divides leadership roles and responsibilities among three distinct executive positions: an executive director to manage the contract and the program, a “functional champion” representing the clinicians from the Veterans Health Administration and an official appointed by the Office of Information and Technology, who has not yet been appointed. Remy also said in his opening statement that he is in the process of hiring “a full-time EHRM manager under my direct supervision who will administer and manage the day-to-day integration responsibilities for EHRM.”

VA is also awaiting the Biden administration’s appointment of a permanent assistant secretary for information and technology – a position that requires Senate confirmation.

Lawmakers are concerned in part because of lingering patient safety concerns and other complaints about the use of the Patient Portal, which patients access to refill pharmaceuticals by mail order online, and issues with others. prescription errors – problems that have apparently been reported and actually corrected. time in the VistA system developed by VA which Cerner replaces.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Who represents the Spokane area where Mann-Grandstaff is located, said the pharmacy is “perhaps the # 1 concern” among patients and staff contacting her. office.

More generally, said McMorris Rodgers, “there’s a feeling that you move on to Columbus and you’re done at Mann-Grandstaff.”

VA has selected Columbus, Ohio, as the next commissioning site. Remy said the agency plans to begin deployment in February 2022 and have it operational at some point by the end of the second quarter. However, Remy said Mann-Grandstaff’s issues had not been forgotten and that he was planning a visit to the site in the coming weeks.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is editor-in-chief of FCW.

Prior to joining the editorial team, Mazmanian was an FCW editor covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was a technology correspondent for the National Journal and held various editorial positions at the B2B SmartBrief news service. Mazmanian has written reviews and articles for The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine, and other publications.

Click here for previous Mazmanian articles. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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