Former VA Deputy CIO says there’s still a chance for VA to save its electronic health record from looming disaster

“… Today the VA finds itself in a very difficult spot. Several billion dollars have already been spent, and many good people have spent years working diligently to try to make this contract work. There is a natural tendency at the VA to believe that “heroic management” can overcome any obstacle. But heroic management cannot overcome deeply flawed technical, cultural and business realities.”

“This strategic review must ask and answer several very difficult questions that should have been asked and answered years ago. It must employ objective outside experts without a “bought-in” mentality. It must demand that specific, meaningful requirements and metrics be produced, analyzed, and tested. They must model a joint VA-DoD end state environment and test the proposed Cerner solution’s ability to succeed in that environment.”

“The good news is that there are solutions available to meet the needs of both organizations. There is a “way ahead” that can salvage some of the work and expense already invested and result in a truly interoperable, scalable and secure system of systems that can meet both organizations’ needs.”

“Doing so would require a strategic pause in both programs while a comprehensive digital transformation strategy is developed. It would not take very long, as the VA has been working on a digital enterprise platform for several years.”

“DoD could adopt this approach and use the knowledge it has recently gained about its healthcare environment to develop its own healthcare digital enterprise platform. The key to success is the adoption of a Platform-to-Platform (P2P) architecture based on adherence to standardized programming interfaces and a service-oriented framework that will facilitate evolutionary improvements to both systems — a much better approach than the current rip-and-replace methodology.”

“Several benefits that have accrued based on the current programs could still be carried forward — such as the continuation of significant funding to get the job done and the cooperation and “jointness” between these two very different organizations.”

“There is an opportunity to turn a looming disaster into a crowning achievement if only the courage and leadership exists to stop, look, rethink and see the better way ahead.” Read the full article here.

Source: There’s still a chance for VA to save its electronic health record from looming disaster — By Edward Meagher, April 5, 2021. Federal News Network.

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