Oracle taps former CMS leader Seema Verma to lead EHR business

Seema Verma, who served as a top healthcare policy leader in the Trump administration, has been tapped to lead Oracle Health, which includes the Cerner electronic health records business.

Verma joined the tech giant last year to run its life sciences division. She is now executive vice president and general manager of Oracle Health and Oracle Life Sciences, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Bloomberg reported that her appointment to run the healthcare unit was announced in December, according to a January internal memo.

Travis Dalton, a 21-year veteran at Cerner and a former general manager at Oracle Health, plans to leave the company to take on the role of CEO and president of MultiPlan, a healthcare data analytics tech provider. Oracle Health Chairman David Feinberg, M.D., announced he was joining healthtech studio Aegis Ventures as senior adviser while retaining his role at Oracle.

Oracle acquired Cerner in a $28 billion deal in June 2022 to push deeper into the healthcare market, and the database giant is betting big that the acquisition will help scale up its cloud business.

But the company is facing challenges with growing its EHR business. 

Oracle's second-quarter revenue fell short of analysts' expectations, pulled down by its Cerner business and slowing cloud growth. During the company's second-quarter earnings call, CEO Safra Catz said the former Cerner business, now called Oracle Health, produced “a drag on Oracle growth.”

Catz said the company was working to “drive Cerner profitability to Oracle standards.”

The company is in the process of transitioning Cerner to the cloud and is upgrading and modernizing Millennium "a piece at a time" to go after a bigger piece of the healthcare ecosystem, Larry Ellison, Oracle chairman and chief technology officer, told investors.

Last fall, Catz warned investors about near-term weakness in Cerner's revenue growth. 

In 2022, when Oracle, known for its database software, announced it planned to acquire Cerner, Ellison touted plans to modernize Cerner's Millennium EHR platform with updated features such as voice interface, more telehealth capabilities and disease-specific AI models.

With the Cerner deal, Oracle also inherited a massive health IT project with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA signed a $10 billion deal with health tech company Cerner in May 2018 to move from the VA’s customized VistA platform to an off-the-shelf electronic health records system. The goal was to align the country’s largest health system with the Department of Defense, which has already started integrating Cerner’s MHS Genesis system.

In May, the VA renegotiated its contract with Oracle to beef up accountability for tech glitches and patient safety issues with its beleaguered electronic health records project.

The Kansas City Business Journal reported last week that Oracle Health is laying off 124 employees in Springfield, Missouri. According to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice Act filing, the layoffs will affect employees who were conducting health information technology operations for CoxHealth, a not-for-profit health system spanning six hospitals and more than 80 clinics. CoxHealth is one of Oracle’s clients but announced in December it would switch from Cerner to Epic.