Mar 29 2023
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, joined VA Committee Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS) in introducing legislation that would prevent the continued implementation of the Oracle Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities until significant improvements are made to the system.
The EHR system has been implemented at five medical centers since 2020 and factored into the loss of veterans’ lives as well as decreased productivity and employee morale. Additionally, the system has faced outages, put nearly 150 patients at risk and more than doubled in cost. After the VA Inspector General (IG) released a report in July outlining major concerns with it, VA paused further implementation of the EHR system. That pause was later extended until June of 2023.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) Standardization and Accountability Act would establish a rigorous list of requirements that VA must meet before the EHR system can be implemented at more VA medical centers.
“While significant investments have been made to modernize the VA’s electronic health records system, the department continues to struggle with implementation,” Boozman said. “This legislation would improve transparency and accountability so we can ensure the VA workforce is better prepared to use the upgraded system and ultimately improve the delivery of care to veterans.”
“Veterans seeking help at VA medical centers should receive nothing but exemplary care,” said Moran. “Testimonies from VA staff and veterans as well as numerous troubling IG reports have made it clear that the EHR system is putting veteran patients at risk and creating significant challenges for VA staff. I support Secretary McDonough’s decision to delay the rollout of the EHR system, and this legislation will create a list of requirements VA, in collaboration with its vendor Oracle Cerner, must meet before implementation of the system can resume. Without these changes, it would be irresponsible to continue implementing the system at additional VA centers.”
Boozman and Moran were joined by Senators Bill Cassidy M.D. (R-LA), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Steve Daines (R-MT) in introducing the legislation.
This legislation builds on Boozman’s continued advocacy for a single, joint medical record that will follow a servicemember throughout their career in the military and into their time as a veteran and his efforts to ensure strong oversight of the implementation of this system. As a leader on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for Department of Veterans Affairs funding, the senator has addressed the ineffective rollout of the EHR system even while the program received billions of dollars in funding.
Boozman also cosponsored the VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act of 2021 to improve transparency of the EHRM program by requiring the VA Secretary to submit periodic reports to Congress regarding the costs, performance metrics and outcomes for EHRM. The legislation was signed into law last year.