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Cerner scores VA EHR system contract

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department has picked Cerner Corp. to develop its electronic health record system, VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin announced Monday.

In selecting Cerner for its EHR system, the VA leaves behind its home-grown VistA EHR, a move that's been on the horizon since Shulkin suggested in March that the department would be moving to a commercial product.

The Defense Department also uses Cerner's system—called MHS Genesis and based on the Cerner Millennium product—which Shulkin said factored into the award selection.

"Without improved and consistently implemented national interoperability standards, VA and DoD will continue to face significant challenges if the departments remain on two different systems," he said in a statement. The VA's use of a Cerner EHR will ensure "seamless care between the departments," he said.

In a statement issued the same day, Cerner said the implementation "will lead to ongoing innovation, improved interoperability and the creating of a single longitudinal health record that can facilitate the efficient exchange of data among military care facilities and the thousands of civilian healthcare providers where current and former service members receive care."

The VA is looking to the Defense Department not only for the EHR itself, but for the security around it. Shulkin said his department will use the Defense Department's cybersecurity "architecture, tools and processes," which keep data physically and digitally separated from commercial clients.

But there will be some differences. Shulkin said the VA will implement Cerner's system much more quickly than it took at the Defense Department, where it lasted for 26 months. Shulkin said he decided to make an exception to the rule for full and open competition, signing a "Determination and Findings" form to do so.


Rachel Z. Arndt

Rachel Arndt joined Project Japan in 2017 as a general assignment reporter. Her work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Quartz, Fast Company, and elsewhere. She has MFAs in nonfiction and poetry from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree from Brown.


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