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Cerner has attracted more than
20 partners to assist in modernizing
the VA EHR system

More than 20 partners join Cerner in VA EHR modernization project

by John R. Fischer , Staff Reporter
Healthcare technology giant Cerner has attracted more than 20 partners in its endeavor to provide seamless care to veterans by establishing a modernized EHR system for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Each member of the team brings to the table experience in constructing and servicing large enterprise systems and commercial sectors, as well as other crucial qualities, from project and team leadership, to experience with veterans needs, to EHR training and technical writing skills, all of which are necessary for the successful completion of the Electronic Medical Record Modernization project.

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“EHRM is the largest health IT modernization effort in history, and to succeed we knew we needed the most innovative companies in the private sector to join us,” Travis Dalton, president of Cerner Government Services, told HCB News. “We chose partners to address areas specific to their expertise to supplement our staffing capabilities and to honor our commitment to VA and our nation’s veterans.”

Formed in an agreement between Cerner and the VA in May, the program will apply technology deployed at Department of Defense (DoD) medical facilities and thousands of providers worldwide to enhance care across the VA’s integrated network, which includes VA facilities, community providers and DoD facilities.

The team will also work to ensure the system offers easier, faster and safer coordination; greater transparency for entire care teams; and added capabilities for meeting special needs of veterans, VA clinicians, and community-care partners.

News of the project though has not gone without controversy, attracting criticism from reports, with one deeming the EHR system at the DoD to be “neither operationally effective nor operationally suitable." Cerner president Zane Burke, who is scheduled to step down from his position officially in November, has called such reports “fake news”, instigated with the help of a “competitor.”

Partners onboard include HCTec, Forward Thinking Innovations LLC, ProSource 360, Leidos, Guidehouse, Accenture, Henry Schein Inc., AbleVets LLC, MicroHealth, and additional small businesses, all of which will take part in a variety of tasks, including updating technology and clinical workflows, providing robust end user training, and making necessary changes to the management program.

“VA’s EHRM, in concert with ongoing progress toward implementing the DoD’s MHS GENESIS system, will lead to ongoing innovation, improved interoperability and the creation of a seamless, single longitudinal health record that will facilitate the efficient exchange of data among military and veteran care facilities, and the thousands of civilian health care providers, agnostic of service provider or locale,” said Dalton.

In a statement, HCTec founder William Bartholomew expressed his gratitude for the opportunity and discussed the advantages that HCTec has to offer EHRM. "Building on our history of modernizing the EHRs of approximately 250 large hospital networks across the country, HCTec will bring to the Cerner project team leadership expertise to help navigate through the complexity of implementation, training, optimization and sustainment efforts at the VA," he said. "Our team members, many of whom are veterans, bring decades of diverse federal and commercial EHR transformation experiences to help address all the challenges and opportunities facing service members and veterans today."

The agreement is one of the largest IT contracts in the federal government, with a ceiling of $10 billion over 10 years. Cerner has already acquired $782 million in funding for the 2018 financial year for the project through support from Congress, as of May 2018.

Team members are scheduled to meet with one another on Monday at the Cerner Health Conference in Kansas City, Missouri to outline a strategy for the EHRM project.

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