POLITICO: VA’s $16 billion digital health project faces critical test

“An oft-delayed $16 billion system to overhaul veterans’ medical records will debut Saturday in Spokane, Wash., marking the first stage of a yearslong marathon.”

“Close observers of the project — initially pushed by President Donald Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner — are cautiously optimistic, with one congressional aide predicting a “B-minus or C-plus” rollout.”

“Nevertheless, the timing, less than two weeks before the election, has attracted skepticism within the agency and in Congress that reflects deeper questions over the political leanings of the department.”

“Congressional Democrats have accused VA Secretary Robert Wilkie of visiting battleground states to boost Trump’s electoral chances and letting politics influence whether to allow congressional visits to VA facilities.”

“But others with knowledge of the project say its timing is being driven by area health providers who want a conclusion to the oft-delayed implementation. The timeline for the project has slipped from March to October due to development delays and the coronavirus pandemic, which shifted department resources. Implementing the software for the sprawling VA health system is critical to giving service members care from enlistment to past discharge…”

“Over the long term, the department is still publicly sticking to a schedule that envisions the system being fully in place in fiscal 2028. But congressional aides see the timeline as wildly unrealistic, with one aide wondering how it could be met — given pandemic and wildfire-related delays just at the Spokane location alone…” Read the full article here.

Source: VA’s $16 billion digital health project faces critical test – By Darius Tahir, October 23, 2020. POLITICO.

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