Marcari Russotto Spencer Balaban, Donald Marcari, MRSB Law Firm

News: Electronic Health Record System Unveiled!

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The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have jointly initiated an electronic health record system at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. 

This significant step marks the completion of the military’s integration into the system and advances the VA towards resuming its deployment across its 172 facilities. 

The North Chicago center, catering to over 75,000 patients annually, is the first VA location to adopt the Oracle Cerner electronic health record system since the program’s suspension in April 2023 due to concerns about patient safety and the system’s usability.

In May 2018, the VA embarked on this journey with a $10 billion contract with Cerner, aiming to provide a seamless digital health record for service members and Veterans throughout their lives. 

Despite the challenges faced during its implementation within the Defense Health Agency and the VA, the latter has successfully launched the system at six locations to date.

The system, known as MHS Genesis within the Defense Department, and simply as the Oracle Cerner EHR within the VA, is part of a broader effort to unify health records within the federal sector, including the United States Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Dr. Neil Evans, the acting executive director for the VA’s EHR Modernization Integration Office, emphasized the anticipated benefits of a consolidated health record system during a recent briefing.

The VA has pledged not to proceed with the system’s deployment at any facility until it is fully prepared. 

Following a comprehensive upgrade, the system was introduced at the North Chicago hospital, with the aim of using this experience to guide further rollouts across the VA network.

The Lovell center, a major joint VA-DoD healthcare facility, serves a diverse community, including Navy recruits, Veterans, and military personnel. 

Over 3,200 employees from both the VA and DoD have undergone extensive training to prepare for the system’s introduction, with a focus on fostering user enthusiasm and competency.

Significant improvements have been made to the system, including a major update to pharmacy services, although this feature has not been activated at the Lovell center pending resolution of certain issues. 

Recent concerns have been raised about the system’s complexity potentially contributing to patient harm, due to the underlining importance of thorough testing and refinement before broader implementation.

This collaborative effort between the Pentagon and VA reflects a committed stride towards enhancing healthcare services for America’s service members and Veterans, with a focus on safety, efficiency, and user experience.

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