Shulkin said that veterans can not afford to wait another two years for a procurement and he noted that the lack of competition will allow the agency to move forward quickly and "get to details on how much money will be required, what the length of the process is and how we involve other companies and thought leaders to make sure we do it right".
The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving away from their longtime electronic health records system, looking to a commercial EHR technology more along the lines of those being utilized by the Dept. of Defense and the Military Health System (MHS).
"For these reasons, I have decided that VA will adopt the same EHR system as DoD, now known as MHS GENESIS, which at its core consists of Cerner Millennium". There was no "full and open competition" for the contract, to which Shulkin said there was a "public interest exception" that allows them to award the contract to Cerner.
"We intend to leverage the architecture, tools and processes that have already been put in place to protect DOD data", Shulkin said, "to include both physical and virtual separation from commercial clients".
"For nearly two decades the departments have undertaken various efforts to advance interoperability between their respective electronic health record systems", the Government Accountability Office reported in October of 2015. Shulkin said it's imperative for veterans to have consistent, accurate medical records. "This is one of the biggest wins for our veterans in decades".More news: WWDC 2017: watchOS 4 Brings Updates and New Faces to Apple Watch
In remarks made during a press conference on Air Traffic Control reform, President Trump praised Secretary Shulkin and the decision to move forward with modernizing the VA's EHR system. I applaud President Trump and Secretary Shulkin for taking this important step to improve and streamline veterans' health care.
There was no word yet on whether Leidos or others on Cerner's team for the defense department contract will be a part of the VA team.
In his announcement, Skulkin made no reference to the dollar value of the contract with Cerner.
"VA's adoption of the same EHR system as DOD will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system", he said, "and enable seamless care between the departments without the manual and electronic exchange and reconciliation of data between two separate systems". That liminal period, after active duty but "before you get enrolled either in VA healthcare or community healthcare", can be unsafe to vulnerable veterans.
"No more complications. The records will now be able to follow the veteran when they leave service - meaning faster, better, and far better quality care", Trump said.
He promised a system that will not only be interoperable with DOD records but also easily transferable to private-sector hospitals and physicians, as VA officials work to expand outside partnerships.