Health IT

At long last, VA inks $10B EHR contract with Cerner

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has finally signed a $10 billion, 10-year contract with Cerner to update its electronic medical record system, thereby replacing its homegrown VistA EHR.

After months of being up in the air, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has finally signed a $10 billion, 10-year contract with Cerner to update its electronic medical record system.

The VA will thus transfer from using its homegrown VistA EHR system to off-the-shelf Cerner solutions, according to a Cerner news release.

The Cerner tools “will modernize the VA’s healthcare IT system and help provide seamless care to veterans as they transition from military service to veteran status, and when they choose to use community care,” VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.

The agreement will put the VA on the same technology as the Department of Defense. However, the implementation process at the DoD has been marred by problems that could have led to patient deaths, according to a report obtained by Politico.

Wilkie addressed these concerns in his statement, noting the VA and DoD are “collaborating closely to ensure lessons learned at DoD sites will be implemented in future deployments at DoD as well as VA.”

As for the VA, getting to the signing stage with Cerner has been a lengthy process.

Last June, former VA Secretary David Shulkin officially announced the department’s intent to replace VistA with a Cerner system.

The EHR vendor initially expected to sign the deal last November, but time went by without a finalized contract. During a February earnings call, Cerner executives didn’t predict a date that they anticipated the deal to go through. Company president Zane Burke only said they predicted the contract would be signed “soon.”

Additionally, the March leadership shakeup at the VA led many to speculate what would come of the Cerner agreement. Shulkin’s departure left a big question mark for the department in the realm of health IT, but the VA has stuck to its initial plan and will move forward with the Cerner agreement.

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