Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) is calling for the termination of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) EHR Modernization program (EHRM) due to repeated outages that have resulted in severe harm to veterans. According to the VA’s Office of Inspector General, nearly 150 instances of patient harm have been caused by the EHR rollout issues, and a glitch in the system failed to deliver more than 11,000 orders. Rosendale has also pointed out that 78 percent of physicians are dissatisfied with the Oracle Cerner EHR system, while 70 percent of VA medical staff surveyed approve of the legacy VistA EHR system.
Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), a member of the House of Representatives, continues to slam the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) EHR Modernization (EHRM) program and is urging its termination in favor of progressing with the legacy EHR system.
The EHR has faced performance issues since its implementation at five VA locations in October 2020, with repeated outages that have resulted in severe harm to veterans.
The EHR rollout issues have caused nearly 150 instances of patient harm, according to the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). A glitch in the system failed to deliver more than 11,000 orders, where requests for items such as appointments or blood tests went unanswered. One instance involved a veteran at risk for suicide who did not receive treatment due to records disappearing from the computer system.
“If it was up to me, not only would Oracle Cerner be gone, but we would be clawing back some of the money that we’ve already spent on them,” said Rosendale, the ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, according to reporting from FedScoop.
During a 2022 Senate VA Committee, officials revealed that the projected cost of the VA EHRM project over the next 30 years, originally estimated to be around $16 billion, could increase to $51 billion when considering system maintenance and staffing concerns.
Cost overruns and patient concerns have plagued the VA EHRM project, but Rep. Rosendale has also pointed out that 78 percent of physicians are dissatisfied with the Oracle Cerner EHR. In contrast, 70 percent of VA medical staff surveyed approve of the VistA EHR system.
“Every time that I have the VA in front of me and the more information that I get, I get more convinced that VISTA is absolutely a system that can accommodate the needs of our veterans in the best fashion possible,” Rosendale told FedScoop.
“There’s not even a comparison between Oracle Cerner and VistA. When we’re talking about delivering safe, quality health care to their veterans, nobody can refute it. The numbers just don’t lie,” Rosendale continued referring to the high dissatisfaction rates with the Oracle Cerner EHR system.
Earlier this month, Rosendale introduced a bill requiring significant improvement or discontinuation of the VA Oracle Cerner EHR program. Additionally, all facilities would return to using the legacy VistA system.
“We have a bill out there to terminate the Cerner contract, but I think we should take it a step further,” Rosendale mentioned. “I do listen to the recommendations of my staff, and so I haven’t done that, but I think that they [Cerner] have done an absolute disservice.”
Ken Glueck, executive vice president of Oracle, argued that reverting to the legacy VA EHR would take healthcare for veterans backward.
Oracle Cerner did not respond to requests to comment on this story.
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