This past week the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced a big move to abandon their in-house VistA system in favor of a commercial EHR system. VA’s decision has come after years of push from Congress to move to an EHR system that has much stronger interoperability with the DoD’s current system, MHS GENESIS, which is facilitated by the Cerner Corporation.
During the announcement, VA Secretary David Shulkin noted that the bulk of VA’s patients come from the DoD. While the two departments “have established interoperability between VA and DoD for key aspects of the health record” to date, achieving seamless care is restricted by the limitations of two separate EHR systems between the departments. Switching to a similar system was seen as the best way to improve interoperability and provide the seamless care VA believes its patients deserve.
The decision to switch to a commercial EHR system was a significant one, and in order to avoid the lengthy process of going through “full and open competition in this technology acquisition,” Shulkin has asserted the move is within the public interest exception and has signed a “Determination and Findings” to cement the nature of the transition. The public interest exception and D&F allow the VA to issue a solicitation directly to the Cerner Corporation for the adoption of the DoD’s current EHR system. The VA intends to implement this new system as soon as possible in order to “enable seamless healthcare to Veterans and qualified beneficiaries.” The plans to transition are projected to take three to six months.