McMorris Rodgers, Bost Introduce Legislation Freezing VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization System

New Bill Halts Rollout Until Oracle-Cerner, VA Fix the Broken System

Jan 31, 2023
Press
Veterans

Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Bost (IL-02) introduced the VA Electronic Health Record Modernization Improvement Act. This legislation would immediately freeze the rollout of Oracle Cerner’s electronic health record modernization (EHRM) system to any additional facilities until significant improvements are made to prevent patient harm.

“The goal of modernizing the VA’s health record was simple: Make sure veterans receive the best care possible at VA facilities. Five years later, it’s abundantly clear that it’s come up short,” said Rodgers. “Veterans and providers in Eastern Washington have endured enough physical and emotional harm. Real change is long overdue and necessary to make this system the improvement we hoped it would be. Oracle Cerner and VA leadership need to fix this system the right way, and the only way to do that without harming more veterans is by formally pausing its rollout.”

The VA Electronic Health Record Modernization Improvement Act would require the VA and Oracle Cerner to demonstrate significant improvements in the EHR system before installing it at additional medical centers. Specifically, each VA medical center’s director, chief of staff, and network director would be required to certify that the EHR system has been correctly configured for the site, the staff and infrastructure are adequate to support it, and it would not negatively impact safety, quality, or current wait times. 

Additionally, VA and Oracle Cerner could not commence go-live preparations at additional medical centers until the Secretary certifies that the system has achieved 99.9 uptime and technical fixes – as directed in the contract – have been made.

“I have traveled across the country and seen and heard firsthand the impact the Oracle Cerner product has had on VA providers and veterans. It has crippled the delivery of care, put veteran patient safety at risk, and stressed an already overwhelmed healthcare system,” said Bost. “While I commend the Secretary for pausing deployment of the new EHR at future sites, I am not confident that will be enough. It’s simple: the Oracle Cerner system should not be implemented at any more VA sites until the VAMC leadership certifies that the medical center is ready. That’s exactly what our bill would do. I hope to get this legislation passed out of the House and signed into law as soon as possible.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has implemented the Oracle Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system at five of 171 medical centers since 2018, including Mann Grandstaff Medical Center in Spokane and Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center in Walla Walla.  The VA acknowledges the system has created unacceptable levels of productivity losses, patient safety risks, and staff burnout at these five small and medium-sized medical facilities. 

In a recent user survey by KLAS Research, an overwhelming 78 percent of Oracle Cerner EHR users at VA disagreed or strongly disagreed that the system enables them to deliver high quality care—the lowest rating for any EHR system surveyed. Because of these poor results, implementation of the system at additional sites has been paused through June 2023.

NOTE: Earlier this month, Cathy sent a letter to the VA’s Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, in which she raised concerns about the new psychiatric unit at Mann-Grandstaff operating on the broken EHRM system. 

Click here to read the bill.

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