VA, DOD pledge to align efforts during EHR rollout

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie and Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis have pledged to align their efforts as the agencies roll out a new $10 billion electronic health record (EHR) system.

Mattis and Wilkie each signed a joint statement where they committed to “align their (departments’) plans, strategies and structures” as they implement a new EHR system, the departments announced on Wednesday, Oct. 10,. The statement was signed Sept. 26.

Last year, the VA announced Cerner would replace its VistA EHR system in a push for interoperability and to modernize the records system. In May, the department awarded Cerner a $10 billion, 10-year contract for the VA EHR project. The new system will allow the VA and DOD to be on the same records system and interoperable with each other.

In the joint statement, the departments promised they’ll prioritize accountability and effectiveness; an organizational structure that supports the delivery of a single, seamlessly integrated EHR that maximizes commercial health record interoperability; coordinated workflows and solutions; and developing a detailed implementation timeline.

Both Mattis and Wilkie said having a modernized, interoperable system will allow the departments to collaborate more efficiently with medical providers, easily share patient data and better serve active-duty members, veterans and their families.

“The joint statement between DOD and VA represents tangible evidence of our commitment to change how we deliver veteran-focused, provider-friendly care,” Wilkie said in a statement. “The new EHR system will be interoperable with DOD, while also improving VA’s ability to collaborate and share information with community care providers. This will ease the burden on service members as they transition from military careers and will be supported by multiple medical providers throughout their lives.”

"We are committed to partnering with the VA to support the lifetime care of our service members, Veterans and their families," Mattis said. "This modern electronic health record will ensure those who serve our nation have quality health care as they transition from service member to veteran."