VA, Defense Department's modernization efforts with Cerner: A timeline

Posted on: Monday, May 10, 2021 By: KorchekStaff

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have been working to launch Cerner's EHR system for both active duty and veteran members. 

A timeline of the DOD's and VA's EHR efforts:

May 2018: The VA finalized a contract with Cerner, awarding the EHR vendor $10 billion over the next 10 years to put the VA on the same records system as the U.S. Defense Department.

February 2019: A member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee expressed frustration over the cost and length of the VA's $16 billion deal with Cerner to put the VA on the same records system as the Defense Department during a hearing, but conceded he was for the first time encouraged by progress on the project.

July 2019: The DOD announced it was set to go live on its Cerner EHR system Sept. 7 at four bases in California and Idaho, with another seven bases scheduled to deploy the system in June 2020.

August 2019: The VA said it was on track for its 10-year Cerner EHR rollout, with plans to implement the new system at dozens of VA hospitals and medical centers each year by 2021.

Just weeks after that announcement, the VA said its March 2020 Cerner EHR go-live goal was expected to be partially or fully delayed until October that year.

September 2019: The DOD went live on its new Cerner EHR at four sites in California and Idaho Sept. 7.

On Sept. 16, the VA unveiled a new training program in support of its EHR modernization effort and Cerner system implementation.

The VA announced at the end of September that it would push back its Cerner EHR rollout in the Pacific Northwest.

February 2020: The VA delayed the launch of its Cerner EHR system, which was scheduled to deploy at a Spokane, Wash.-based facility in March.

April 2020: The VA postponed its Cerner EHR implementation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then-VA Secretary Robert Wilkie confirmed the project delay, stating that the department would focus on distributing staff to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

October 2020: The VA deployed the first capabilities of its Cerner EHR system at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Wash.

February 2021: The Government Accountability Office recommended the VA pause the implementation of its Cerner EHR system to perform "critical" tests before deploying the system at any additional facilities. 

March 2021: VA Secretary Denis McDonough shared with lawmakers his concerns about the productivity of the VA's Cerner EHR transition and the potential of the $16 billion project going over budget. 

The VA announced a strategic review of its Cerner EHR implementation to ensure the next deployments in the rollout avoid any issues.

April 2021: Fifty members of Congress penned a letter to Mr. McDonough over privacy concerns with the VA's protocols for EHR access. 

The VA paused deployment activities for its new Cerner EHR system at a second site until it has completed a strategic review of the project and shared the results with Congress.

The DOD went live on its new Cerner EHR system across healthcare facilities in 12 more states.

Mr. McDonough visited Spokane, Wash.-based Mann-Grandstaff Medical Center after he heard concerns that the VA's Cerner EHR adoption was causing distress for veterans and hospital staff.

May 2021: The VA is seeking a vendor to gather information on EHR design, data capabilities, delivery and acquisition planning.

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