Health & Medical

VA EHR update: Watchdog flags unreliable ticket estimates, coaching deficiencies

A pair of stories from the Department of Veterans Affairs Characteristic of enterprise of Inspector Basic raised extra capacity concerns about the VA’s electronic smartly being modernization program.  

The stories, revealed on help-to-help days this past week, flagged unreliable IT infrastructure ticket estimates for the EHR modernization program as a total, at the side of coaching deficiencies for enterprise and clinical workflows at the first fling-reside internet online page at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.  


In the first issue, revealed this past Wednesday, the VA OIG’s Characteristic of enterprise of Audits and Evaluations unparalleled that the VA had reported to Congress in 2018 that the EHR modernization program would ticket about $16.1 billion over the route of ten years.  

That ticket incorporated about $4.3 billion for IT upgrades, including machine interfaces and updates to full-user gadgets equivalent to desktop and computer computer computers.   

“Reporting reliable ticket estimates for these upgrades is imperative so that Congress has the tips desired to develop advised budgetary and funding decisions,” seen the OIG.  

Sadly, says the OIG, full documentation for these estimates changed into once lacking – making it complex to assess their accuracy.  

Moreover to, “the OIG realized [the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization] did now not embody charges for serious program-related IT infrastructure upgrades in the estimates reported to Congress, effectively underreporting program charges by nearly $2.5 billion,” be taught the issue.

OEHRM lacks formal agreements with the VA’s Characteristic of enterprise of Data and Technology and the Veterans Smartly being Administration to decide to funding these $2.5 billion upgrades. The absence of agreements can leads to complications, if OIT or VHA can not full them.

“Without all serious IT infrastructure crimson meat up charges accurately offered in the existence-cycle ticket estimates, Congress lacks a comprehensive image of total program charges that option-makers must develop advised oversight and funding decisions,” be taught the issue.  

The 2d issue, which enthusiastic the novel EHR at Mann-Grandstaff, moreover raised concerns.  

In that issue, the VA OIG’s Characteristic of enterprise of Healthcare Inspections realized critical gaps in workers coaching on the manner to make impart of the novel EHR – seriously in regard to context and workflow.  

“Facility leaders reported that coaching did now not present alternatives to ascertain proficiency in navigating a massive diversity of clinical scenarios; as a change, instruction taking into account the extra than one steps required to full particular initiatives,” be taught the issue. The OIG realized that facility leaders and workers acknowledged they had inadequate time to cloak complex coaching matters, especially amid the context of COVID-19’s other challenges.  

Two or three months after the impart of the novel EHR, bigger than half of of facility workers acknowledged they’d well now not portion patient files with other clinicians with out topic, and nearly two-thirds acknowledged they’d well now not navigate the somewhat a lot of EHR purposes with out topic.   

“Overall, the undercover agent results showed that, after coaching and two to a number of months of novel EHR impart, most effective a minute p.c of facility users reported facile impart with EHR core capabilities,” acknowledged the OIG.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the OIG seen low employee morale and concerns referring to patient complaints and provider productivity.  

The watchdog moreover unparalleled some VA workers individuals’ obvious makes an attempt to conceal the coaching topic: “Disturbingly, leaders from VA OEHRM Trade Administration withheld some coaching review files requested by the OIG and altered other files sooner than sending to the OIG.”

“The OIG has notified VA senior leaders of this topic and is extra pursuing the topic,” wrote auditors.  


The VA’s EHR modernization rollout has been beset by difficulties for months, between COVID-19-related delays; other serious OIG stories about ticket underestimations; and stories of confusion and dissatisfaction from its early users.  

The unenthusiastic response to the venture’s preliminary rollout resulted in a end on the program whereas the VA undertook a strategic overview.

However earlier this month, VA Secretary Denis McDonough acknowledged the department would stick with Cerner for the modernization.  


“As with any operation of this magnitude, success relies on guaranteeing synchrony of extra than one, complex bright scheme,” wrote the OIG officials in the July 8 issue. “A governance construction that ensures collaboration and engagement of all related stakeholders is serious to reaching that success.”

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT Data.

Twitter: @kjercich

Electronic mail: [email protected]

Healthcare IT Data is a HIMSS Media newsletter.

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