EHR users see Cerner as the favorite to replace VistA

The fate of the Department of Veterans Affairs' electronic health record system is still very much up in the air, but EHR users believe Cerner is well-positioned to swoop in as a replacement.

More than 30,000 EHR end users surveyed by Black Book ranked Cerner as the leading candidate to replace VistA, the legacy EHR system at the VA that has come under fire from lawmakers for its high maintenance costs.

VA Secretary David Shulkin has said he will make a decision regarding the VistA’s future by July, but he previously told lawmakers that the VA needs to “move towards commercially tested products.” The VA’s CIO has said he is confident the department will “go commercial” with a new EHR system.

RELATED: Shulkin sets summer deadline for VistA decision, tempers expectations of switch to commercial EHR

EHR end users ranked five vendors based on how 24 indicators aligned with the VA's primary issues including access to care, addressing opioid dependency and fiscal performance. Cerner received a 9.14 out of 10, followed by Allscripts, Epic, athenahealth and Meditech.

Cerner has been the runaway favorite to replace VistA once officials hinted at the possibility of transitioning to a commercial system. Cerner was one of three companies awarded $4.3 billion by the Department of Defense in 2015 to revamp its EHR system. The DOD rolled out its new MHS Genesis System at Fairchild Airforce Base in Washington earlier this year. Shulkin said it was a mistake for the VA not to coordinate its approach to EHRs with Defense officials. 

RELATED: DOD’s new EHR system looks to standardize care, improve interoperability

But it’s still not clear whether the VA will look to replace VistA entirely or integrate a commercial system to work in conjunction with the existing EHR. Two Requests for Information (RFI) released by the VA last week underscored both possibilities. One sought information regarding an off-the-shelf software solution to replace VistA entirely. A second requested information about using a commercial product to supplement VistA capabilities.