Cerner gets contract to update VA's electronic health records system

The system would replace the VA's aging information technology system known as Vista which has been in use for decades

But in VA Secretary David Shulkin's announcement today he made no mention of Leidos, only that VA wanted the Cerner system so it could be interoperable with DOD.

Moving to end years of studies and patchwork software fixes, the VA Secretary announced on Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs will start using a commercial platform for electronic health records that is already used by the Pentagon, all to ensure complete and accurate data in the VA health system.

Cerner was awarded a almost $5 billion contract in 2015 to revamp the DoD health records.

It took DOD 26 months between requirements generation and awarding the contract, but Shulkin said VA simply can't afford to wait that long.

"I think we will be able to do ours even faster than they did", said Shulkin, estimating that the planning phase for this initiative will likely take three to six months.

The Trump administration picked Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. for a coveted contract to modernize veterans health records, but the news came with a caveat: There will be no competition for the taxpayer-funded project.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will overhaul its medical records technology in an effort to streamline its procedures and improve care for veterans.

Shulkin previously announced he would make a decision on EHR by July 1, but made his announcement weeks early, saying the current VA health system is in need of "major modernization".

President Donald Trump is promising that this will "be a big day for our Veterans".

"Without improved and consistently implemented national interoperability standards, VA and DoD will continue to face significant challenges if the departments remain on two different systems", he said in a statement.

"VA has unique needs and many of those are different from the Department of Defense", Shulkin said.

One veterans organization, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said it will closely watch implementation of the new system.

The announcement did not include any timeline for implementation, nor did it include the value of the contract.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., who had been a strong advocate of an off-the-shelf system, said in a statement that he was "encouraged by the announcement", adding that "VA's antiquated IT systems have stood between veterans and the care they deserve for far too long".

"The bottom line is we still don't have the ability to trade information seamlessly for our veteran patients and seamlessly execute a share plan of acre with smooth handoffs", Shulkin said.

Accordingly, under my authority as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, I have signed what is known as a "Determination and Findings", or D&F, that is a special form of written approval by an authorized official that is required by statute or regulation as a prerequisite to taking certain contract actions. "For this reason, VA will be adopting the identical EHR that DOD uses, but - and this is an important but - with additional capabilities to maximize interoperability with our community partners".

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