VA and Oracle eye new EHR deployment schedule by next summer

But restarting the paused Electronic Health Record Modernization program will first require a successful deployment at Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Chicago, says Dr. Neil Evans of the EHRM Integration Office.
By Andrea Fox
10:24 AM

The Department of Veterans Affairs and leaders from Oracle provided an update on the paused electronic health record modernization project to the House Appropriations Committee this week, indicating progress and their expectations about when they will develop a new deployment schedule.


Workflow reconfigurations will make the VA’s electronic health record "more intuitive" for providers, said Mike Sicilia, EVP of Oracle Global Industries, while testifying Wednesday before members of Congress.

Before open discussions for a restart happen, said Dr. Neil Evans, acting program executive director of the EHRM Integration Office, the VA needs to see sustained improvement. 

"We are now focusing on delivering the improvements needed for the current system users while also preparing the enterprise for future deployment success," he reported.

On August 31, VA completed its first increment for the program reset – the work of "dedicated attention and positive improvements," addressing necessary system changes, technical stability, enhancing end-user support and ticketing and more, said Evans.

More needs to be done to revisit deployment scheduling, according to the VA leaders and Oracle.

The company is working with the VA to make 270 workflow reconfigurations during the EHRM's reset period, and are currently meeting all 22 service-level agreements. As part of joint health information exchange requirements, Sicilia said Oracle delivered a package of upgrades, including pharmacy and other patient safety enhancements, to 90% of the VA's community hospitals.

Comparing the VA's EHRM project to the Department of Defense rollout of MHS Genesis, he said it was "similarly challenged" in its first two years, "only completing four deployments and then taking a two-year pause to improve governance and fine-tune a standard enterprise baseline system." 

DoD then had a repeatable deployment model and was then able to roll out its EHR to all domestic facilities in under four years, he said.

The VA's EHRM deployment at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Chicago is the only exception to the VA's full stop of its previous rollout schedule. It is on track to go live in March 2024, according to Sicilia.

He said that the work for that deployment "will demonstrate that the system is scaled to function well and handle operations at complex facilities."


Earlier this year, the VA halted its planned EHR roll-out and struck a new deal with Oracle.

"All in all, this is a much stronger contract, and I’m hopeful it will help VA ensure that Oracle Cerner gets this EHR program to work for Washington state providers and veterans," U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the VA Subcommittee, and a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, said about the revised requirements.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee announced it confirmed Tanya Bradsher to be the VA's deputy secretary – the first woman named to the role. Bradsher, who most recently served as the VA's chief of staff, is charged with running the agency's day-to-day operations – including the roll-out of the EHRM.


"Since implementing our engineering changes, the Oracle-owned outage free time has been 100% in 11 of the last 12 months," Sicilia testified before Congress.

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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