Cerner EHR project for VA will take 7 to 8 years, Shulkin says

While the launch of the new EHR to replace the outdated VistA system will take just 18 months, but the whole system overhaul will take much longer.
By Jessica Davis
03:10 PM
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Cerner EHR project for VA

VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, testifying on Oct. 24.

It will take 18 months for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to launch the new Cerner electronic health record and another seven to eight years to transition the whole legacy EHR system once the contract with Cerner is finalized, VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD,  told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Tuesday.

But some on the committee weren’t convinced of the timeline.

"This isn’t a scientific analysis, but I have yet to see a VA budget for time or cost [not] exceeded," said Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas. "It usually goes beyond the budgeted time, beyond the budgeted costs."

Shulkin’s response? “This is a new VA, congressman.”

Just last week, the VA sent out a request for information to determine how best to achieve interoperability with community providers, as the agency is looking to expand its choice program to ensure all veterans are able to receive timely and quality care, Shulkin said.

In addition, the VA has given “Congress a 30-day notification of our intent to negotiate a contract that would give us the true interoperability with the Department of the Defense,” said Shulkin. 

“This is a total package, where that’s what we seek: real and full interoperability for veterans.”

The contract with Cerner is expected to be finalized and announced by next month. The cost of the project has yet to be released. The DoD just went live with the final pilot site for its own Cerner EHR project at the Madigan Army Medical Center this week.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed the lawsuit made by CliniComp against the government, which claimed the no-bid contract awarded to Cerner by the VA was “arbitrary” and “lacks a reasonable basis.”

The California-based EHR developer filed suit in August, and the case was dismissed based on jurisdiction. The judge’s opinion remains under seal.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com