VA Acting CIO confirms planned move to commercial EHR

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Senior VA IT Officials Indicate Transition to Commercial EHR – February 7, 2017, By Heather Landi, Healthcare Informatics

A senior IT official with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) told members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs during a hearing Tuesday that the department will move to a commercial off-the-shelf electronic health record (EHR) system.

Rob Thomas, II, Acting Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and Acting CIO, Office of Information and Technology for the VA, testified before House Veterans Affairs committee members during a hearing focused on accessing the VA IT landscape. House Veterans Affairs committee members scheduled the hearing to get a report on progress and challenges related to the VA’s healthcare IT modernization efforts.

The VA is still attempting to modernize the department’s EHR system, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), which has been the subject of numerous Congressional hearings. In previous committee hearings in both the Senate and the House, lawmakers have voiced ongoing frustrations about the VA’s progress on modernizing its IT systems and the progress of achieving interoperability between the VA’s VistA and the Department of Defense’s (DoD) EHR system. It has been estimated that the VistA system is at least 30 year old.

President Donald Trump has tapped David Shulkin, M.D., an Obama administration appointee and current VA undersecretary, to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin, 57, a board-certified internist and fellow of the American College of Physicians, is expected to be approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today.

During the hearing, Committee Chairman Rep. Phil Roe said, “This is the third major attempt to modernize VistA in the past decade. Retaining or replacing VistA is…”

G2X TAKE: While much of the IT leadership team has departed as part of the transition to the new administration, based on yesterday’s hearing, the drumbeat for a commercial off the shelf EHR continues. It is possible that new leadership will have a different perspective on this matter and the success of the DoD EHR implementation looms over any effort, but the current acting CIO was clear about the direction VA is moving. 

This article does a great job synopsizing many of the key discussion points from the Veterans Affairs committee meeting.

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