VA Pushes Back Health Records Program, Citing COVID Urgency

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie (Image: Department of Veterans Affairs)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has pushed back its Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program – despite the core software for the program being “over 99 percent complete” – to focus more fully on healthcare challenges during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

The software to support the EHRM project at Washington state’s Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center has 72 of 73 interfaces complete and ready for testing, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in an April 3 letter to Congress.  Wilkie said the pandemic has shifted priorities at the agency, and that “our priority is the care of Veterans and providing surge capabilities for civilian health care systems.”

The Democratic leadership of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs released a statement of support Wednesday.

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“If VA is not ready, the Electronic Health Record Modernization project should be delayed,” said Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., and Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Chair Susie Lee, D-Nev. “But as this emergency passes, we must make sure that VA does not lose sight of the need for strong employee engagement.”

 

“Congress stands ready to support VA throughout this crisis and the delays in EHRM implementation,” they said.

In the letter to Congress, Wilkie did not provide a specific updated timeline for the project’s rollout.

“VA will provide future updates when we have better visibility on when our health care personnel can resume working on the EHRM program regionally and nationally,” Wilkie said.

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