Congress mandates regular reports on Cerner's DoD EHR progress

Lawmakers included enhanced requirements for reporting on the major EHR project in the 2017 Department of Defense Appropriations Act.
By Bill Siwicki
02:52 PM
Cerner’s DoD EHR

Congress has added new reporting requirements for the Defense Department’s massive Cerner EHR implementation within the newly brokered budget deal for 2017. Specifically, the Defense Appropriation Act mandates quarterly updates on the new system’s schedule, costs, timeline and progress in reaching interoperability with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ system. 

DoD awarded the $4.3 billion contract to Cerner, Accenture and Leidos in July of 2019 and rolled out the first pilot, dubbed MHS Genesis, at Fairchild Air Force Base in February 2017. The VA, for its part, is gearing up to decide whether it will modernize its current VistA EHR or instead replace it with a commercial product. The departments have a long history of struggling to fully integrate their medical records, including the multi-billion dollar iEHR project they ultimately abandoned.

[Also: Cerner picking up big business from small hospitals]

“Concerns remain with the progress being made by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to fully develop, procure and deploy an interoperable electronic health record solution,” the legislation stated. “The two systems must be completely and meaningfully interoperable.”

The act goes on to say that the reports should include changes to timelines, refinements of cost estimates, assurance that DoD’s acquisition strategy complies with rules and regulations, and status updates on the effort to achieve interoperability with the VA. 

Congress further directed the program executive officer to continue to brief House and Senate Appropriations committees on a quarterly basis and provide written notification to these committees prior to signing any contract for electronic health record systems in excess of $5 million.

Further, the program executive officer must provide to the federal chief information officer monthly updates on progress made by the two departments to reach interoperability and modernize their respective electronic health records.

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