Local rollout of new veterans data platform delayed

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Deployment of a new electronic health record system that would link veterans’ medical facilities to the Department of Defense has been delayed in Spokane, Wash., And now in Columbus, two pilot cities for the project.

Combined data from Veterans Affairs and the United States Department of Defense is intended for military veterans. But the $ 16 billion electronic health records modernization program, proposed under the Trump administration in 2017, fell short of expectations.

Deployment of the Cerner Millennium recording platform and its EHR software was scrapped last fall at a Spokane facility. And it has been postponed to Columbus until next year in hopes of fixing bugs and training issues.

A fact sheet titled “Prepare for VA Patient Portal Improvements for Planning,” released a year ago to residents of Columbus, included a complicated explanation, including flowcharts on how the new system works.

The VA website describes the effort as “allowing clinicians to easily access a veteran’s complete medical history in one place.” But a March press release also noted the issues and the need to assess future deployment dates, including Columbus.

Asked to comment on the local rollout, Mark McCann, public affairs manager for the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System, said he was “unable” to answer questions such as who had received training on the new system, any local issues. with its implementation, and how much it had cost in time and effort.

He referred questions to a recent Senate committee hearing in which the VA said it was reassessing the project.

“This reassessment will probably take until the end of the year, and we ask for patience as the VA works on the resolution in Spokane… before we get to the next steps in Columbus or elsewhere,” McCann said.

US Senator Sherrod Brown, who sits on the US Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. told The Dispatch he was concerned about the two systems merging and whether providers and community health workers were receiving sufficient training.

“(VA) Secretary (Denis) McDonough assured my colleagues and I that the new EHR system would not be put into service in Columbus, or other VA facilities, until the problems were resolved. not resolved and that the facilities and staff would not be prepared. I have the firm intention of making sure that this commitment is respected.

The Veterans Inspector General, in a report, called the deployment a mess, according to the Military Times, with “insufficient time for training … challenges with user role assignments and gaps in support for Training”.

Carolyn Clancy, assistant deputy secretary for health, acknowledged “a clear lack of testing and training reflecting actual clinical environments” with the initial deployment, according to the Military Times.

Officials said the software itself was not to blame, pointing to a lack of preparation and training to put the new system in place.

“We are building a system that helps vendors understand each Veteran’s unique story and wrap our nationally integrated system resources around them,” Clancy said, according to the Military Times. “This is the end goal. We can do it.

Some veterans question the large cash spending on projects that may not directly benefit veterans in need.

“As a retired veteran I see a lot of well-intentioned things coming up. But I really don’t see what benefit it would be for me,” said Michael Forrest, director of transition and veteran services. fighters at Ohio Military University. and the Bureau of Veterans Services, not speaking on behalf of its office.

“How can we spend so much money and what do we get for it? “

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@DeanNarciso


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