VA wants feedback as it pursues commercial EHR system

It appears more and more likely the Veterans Affairs Department will, in fact, pursue an off-the-shelf commercial electronic health record system, releasing a request for information this week to get industry feedback on the switch.

At the hearing of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in late June, VA CIO LaVerne Council said she cringes when she thinks about how old the current system is because it constitutes working with something to which few people can relate.

Now with the RFI, it seems the agency may finally be ready to ditch VistA in favor of a new, modernized system.

The purpose of the request, the VA writes, is to get “recommendations on all aspects of the change management associated with [the] ... acquisition and transition.”

For now, though, the agency is just looking for feedback, not on the actual software or hardware change, but guidance from those who have been part of management and business process reengineering for EHR transitions.

The RFI notes that guidance could focus on areas such as governance for the transition process, business continuity, patient safety during the transition, cybersecurity, among others. It points out, however, that "there is no obligation on the part of the government to acquire any products or services."

The pressure is on for the VA to see success with the next iteration of its EHR system. Earlier this summer, House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee members Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office saying that, despite the VA's efforts to improve and modernize its VistA system, it has not "produced the kinds of modern systems and capabilities that Congress mandated."

They requested more information on the efforts, and that the GAO conduct a study on the projects.

Comments on the RFI are due by Aug. 26. 

To learn more:

- check out the RFI