The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it will delay further deployments of its Oracle Cerner electronic health records (EHR) system until June 2023 to address well-publicized challenges with the system and ensure it functions effectively for veterans and VA health care personnel.

News of the delay until mid-2023 comes after VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced in July that VA would delay further EHR deployments until January 2023 to ensure that the system’s issues have been resolved.

However, during a subsequent investigation, the VA discovered several additional technical and system issues – including challenges with performance, patient scheduling, referrals, medication management, and other types of medical orders.

“Right now, the Oracle Cerner electronic health record system is not delivering for Veterans or VA health care providers – and we are holding Oracle Cerner and ourselves accountable to get this right,” VA Deputy Secretary Donald Remy said in a press release.

“We are delaying all future deployments of the new EHR while we fully assess performance and address every concern. Veterans and clinicians deserve a seamless, modernized health record system, and we will not rest until they get it,” he added.

The Oracle Cerner EHR system is intended to replace the VA’s current Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture to document and support all aspects of veteran health care. And despite ongoing troubles with the systems, the VA remains committed to building an EHR solution that will link with the Department of Defense’s health record system to create seamless care for service members and veterans.

VA plans to continue to work closely with Oracle Cerner to resolve issues with the system’s performance, maximize usability for VA healthcare providers, and ensure its users are served by an effective records system that supports their needs.

During this investigative period, “we will correct outstanding issues – especially those that may have patient safety implications – before restarting deployments at other VA medical centers,” the agency said.

The VA said it will continue to focus on the five facilities where the new system has already been deployed to ensure every patient is getting effective service and care.

The agency also plans to send letters to users who may have been impacted by problems with the EHR system inquiring whether they have experienced delays in medications, appointments, referrals, or test results, and ask them to contact VA either online or through the agency’s call center.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.