DOD report blasts MHS Genesis rollout, citing inaccurate patient information and safety concerns

A scathing report from the Department of Defense says its MHS Genesis EHR is “neither operationally effective nor operationally suitable,” highlighting concerns that the system’s failures jeopardize patient safety.

The April 30 report (PDF), released by the DOD last week, describes a system rife with critical problems impacting patient care and clinical usability. Robert Behler, the DOD’s director of operational test and evaluation, reviewed the Cerner implementations at three facilities in Washington state and found that 156 incident reports were of “critical deficiencies” that included potential patient safety concerns.

The report was released shortly after Politico reported that the system was riddled with errors that could lead to patient deaths.

“Users questioned the accuracy of the information exchange between external systems and MHS Genesis which could jeopardize patient safety due to inaccurate patient medical data,” the report states.

Users gave the Cerner system a usability score of just 37 out of 100, “well below the threshold of 70 that indicated acceptable usability,” according to the report. Pharmacists, in particular, complained they were working overtime because of longer prescription order workflows that took 45 minutes or more, compared to 15-20 minutes under the previous system.

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The report also identified specific interoperability concerns, including issues with data from other systems failing to adhere to interface control documents, prompting clinicians to question the accuracy of information. Twenty-two high-severity incident reports were tied to interoperability.

Behler recommended that the DOD freeze the EHR rollout indefinitely until the agency can fix high-priority issues. He also recommended that the Program Management Office complete cybersecurity testing, improve training and work with users to reduce workarounds.

A Cerner spokesperson did not return a request for comment.

The report raises questions about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ decision to tap Cerner for its EHR overhaul. That contract has been delayed in part because of interoperability concerns, but a VA official told lawmakers last week that the agency plans to make a final decision by May 28.

The Coast Guard also recently decided to join the Defense Department’s Cerner rollout. A recent notice of intent indicated that the 10-year, $4.3 billion contract would be updated to include the Coast Guard.