VA Chooses Commercial Overhaul of Electronic Health Records System

Stars and Stripes - The Department of Veterans Affairs will turn to the private sector to overhaul its electronic health records, and is side-stepping the federal contracting process to do so, VA Secretary David Shulkin announced Monday, June 5.

The VA will use the same system as the Defense Department and contract with the Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner Corporation, Shulkin said.

“I said recently to Congress that I was committed to getting VA out of the software business, that I didn’t see remaining in that business as benefitting veterans,” he said. “And, because of that, we’re making a decision to move towards a commercial, off-the-shelf product.”

The decision to purchase a new commercial system rather than fix the VA’s in-house system, called VistA, was long-awaited. In February, the Government Accountability Office condemned the VA’s ongoing spending to patch the 40-year-old VistA, which is expected to reach $2.5 billion in 2017 alone. The office described VistA as “old, inefficient and difficult to maintain” and encouraged the VA to buy an off-the-shelf health records system.

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