IT modernization

VA seeks full funding in 2022 for health record project, despite six-month hiatus

Homeowners are concerned that the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to fully fund its program to move from its local Vista system to Cerner’s commercial electronic health record in 2022, despite unspent funds in fiscal 2021.

Implementation of the 10-year Electronic Health Records (EHRM) modernization program was halted this year due to concerns about patient safety and the adequacy of training at the Mann Medical Center’s initial deployment site. -Grandstaff VA in Spokane, Washington. Secretary Denis McDonough instituted a “strategic review” in March that ended in July in which deployments were suspended.

Once the review is complete, VA hopes to continue deployment to the 20 Veterans Integrated Services Network, which includes Mann-Grandstaff and other sites in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, as well as VISN 10, which includes Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

In a hearing Thursday, held nearly a year after the commissioning date, VA deputy secretary Donald Remy said the agency was seeking the $ 2.66 billion for the program for the fiscal year 2022 included in the Biden administration’s budget submission, although money remains. from FY2021 because the FY2021 budget appropriation for the program is good for three fiscal years.

“I think our deployment and deployment plan at the VISN 10 and 20 sites, our need to provide infrastructure support to ensure that all of our sites will be ready when we deploy this system to these sites, our recognition that Right now, as we go through our current state readiness exams, we plan to roll out into other VISNs later in the year – with all of these things together, we think ownership is needed to do the job, ”Remy said.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), Who chairs the subcommittee that funds VA, was skeptical.

“Obviously asking for more money when you are not able to spend the money you have and you have a three year window to do so wouldn’t be helpful,” she said. to Remy during the hearing.

Part of the funding problem for lawmakers is that the initial estimate of VA’s $ 16 billion cost for the 10-year program proved unreliable because it did not account for upgrades. the physical and IT infrastructure needed at VA sites before bandwidth is consumed. The Cerner application could be deployed. Two agency inspectors general reports found that VA underestimated physical infrastructure costs by $ 2.6 billion and IT infrastructure costs by $ 2.5 billion, bringing the total cost of the program to more than 21 billion dollars.

A new cost estimate “will include all of the items to be included that the IG has identified that should have been included in the definition of costs associated with our electronic health record modernization program,” Remy said. This cost estimate will take about a year to produce, he said.

The House Veterans Committee is also seeking to clarify cost estimates. The VA’s bipartisan electronic health records transparency law of 2021 would require the VA to provide cost reports to Congress every 90 days. VA supports the measure in principle, but the department wants flexibility on reporting deadlines and clarification on other reporting requirements, according to a statement presented at a subcommittee hearing on Oct. 7.

Leaders of the military construction credit subcommittee, veterans and related agencies are also looking for more frequent updates on the status of the EHRM project – panel chairs Wasserman-Schultz told Remy to expect to be called in for monthly updates.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is editor-in-chief of FCW.

Prior to joining the editorial team, Mazmanian was a writer at FCW 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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