VA to require Cerner prioritize interoperability, secure data exchange in EHR project

Veterans Affairs will require Cerner to collaborate with agency affiliates, community providers and other EHR vendors to fuel interoperability – superior to the industry standard.
By Jessica Davis
02:50 PM
VA Cerner EHR

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released its report on the functional requirements expected of Cerner with the EHR modernization project.

Typically, these documents are provided to vendors attempting to bid on government contracts. However, VA Secretary Shulkin issued a sole source contract to EHR giant Cerner in June, in an effort to work alongside the Department of Defense and their Cerner install.

The VA has yet to sign the contract with Cerner. 

According to the documents, interoperability is top of mind for the agency. Along with requiring Cerner to provide a level of secure information exchange, interoperability must be far better than the industry standard.

“The Contractor is required to collaborate with VA affiliates, community partners, EHR providers, healthcare providers and vendors to advance seamless care throughout the healthcare provider market,” according to the work statement.

The idea is to create “a design architecture that allows for access to and sharing of common data and an enabling security framework that supports end-to-end healthcare related clinical and business operations.”

By the time of initial operating capability, the platform must enable the VA, DoD and community providers to share interactive care plans and collaborative communication between providers.

Further, within two years of signing the contract, the new system should let the agency share complete referral management activities, along with discharge and admission data.

Cerner will also be required to provide a “computable dataset” for population health, research analytics, clinical decision support and workflow integration, as well as create a tool to identify and manage veterans who are at high risk of suicide.

The work plan further outlined the need to ensure VA services continue without interruption throughout the duration of the project. Cerner will need to provide a transition plan to support the outgoing transition for 90 days, along with staff to support the agency during the “phase-in, phase-out period.”

Cerner will also be required to provide bi-weekly check-ins.

Last week, in response to a Government Accountability Office report that found the VA wasted $1.1 billion on its EHR modernization efforts, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform leaders said they’re concerned as to whether the VA is equipped to handle the EHR modernization project.

Specifically, Robin Kelly, D-Illinois, was concerned about the VA hiring, firing and rehiring 34 contracts during the GAO study.

The committee said it was reluctant to provide more money for the Cerner contract without an increased VA budget, which may also hinder finalizing the contract.


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