Federal News Network: VA faces pivotal moment with EHR after months of lingering usability problems

“But months after the initial go-live, VA employees and congressional stakeholders tell Federal News Network the deployment in Spokane was far less successful than the department initially touted. And though some pieces of the electronic health record are working well, they say the initial rollout was not a viable proof of concept for VA’s $16 billion, 10-year EHR modernization effort — at least not yet.

‘We are increasingly concerned about the program’s performance and impact on productivity, operations, data syndication, revenue cycle, veteran experience and other issues as reported by senior Veterans Health Administration officials as well as rank-and-file employees,’ the four leaders of the House and Senate VA Committees said in a Feb. 25 letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. ‘There are significant technical and organizational challenges which must be addressed as the next steps in EHRM are planned, particularly before VA proceeds to deploy the system at the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio and beyond.’

McDonough launched a strategic review of the EHR modernization program late last month, citing an initial evaluation of the feedback he had received from Spokane…”

“’While we recognize some degradation in productivity is to be expected in the months following any EHR go-live, we are worried that not enough progress is being made to fully mitigate these issues,’ senators and House members wrote. ‘We appreciate that Dr. Richard Stone, VA’s acting undersecretary for health, and other senior officials traveled to Mann-Grandstaff in late January to gain first-hand knowledge of the issues that staff are facing. We believe now is the best opportunity to correct the local and systemic issues revealed during the Mann-Grandstaff deployment.’…”

“VA said its strategic review could take up to 12 weeks, but congressional stakeholders worry the department is determined to keep to a pre-set timeline. They want VA to detail concrete goals and demonstrable metrics for the review and stick to them, even if it means pushing back future EHR deployments.

‘The strategic review is a good idea. But it needs to end when the problems are solved, not when a predetermined clock runs out,’ Mike Bost (R-Ill.), ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement to Federal News Network. ‘Make no mistake, the problems in Spokane will become the problems in Columbus and on and on until they are taken care of. That’s why we need to take care of them now.’…” Read the full article here.

Source: VA faces pivotal moment with EHR after months of lingering usability problems – By Nicole Ogrysko, April 12, 2021. Federal News Network.

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