FedScoop: VA in talks to introduce more accountability to Oracle Cerner EHR contract: official

by Nihal Krishan

The Department of Veteran Affairs is negotiating the addition of new accountability and enforcement mechanisms to its $10 billion electronic health record software contract with Oracle Cerner, according to a senior official.

The agency is seeking to introduce new penalty measures to its contract with the technology giant as part of discussions to exercise a five-year option for Oracle Cerner’s Millennium EHR platform.

“One of the key items we’re looking at is improving the frustration…around the limited enforcement mechanisms of the May 2018 contract. It’s very restrictive,” Michael Parrish, VA’s chief acquisition officer, told lawmakers at a Senate hearing earlier this week. “What we are renegotiating with the Oracle team is to strengthen and add more enforcement mechanisms especially around service level agreement.”

Concerns over the impact of the system on patient care have been expressed by frontline medical staff, lawmakers and oversight bodies. Earlier this year, the VA’s Office of Inspector General published a trio of reports that identified major concerns about care coordinationticketing and medication management associated with the EHR program launch.

The implementation of the VA’s new EHR system is expected to be delayed from its original estimates by at least one to two years while the cost has ballooned by billions.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mt., the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, tore into Oracle Cerner during the Wednesday hearing saying that he wanted to see “tougher” terms in a renegotiated VA EHR contract with “severe penalties for poor performance.” Tester added that “if Oracle won’t agree to those terms, then the VA should be prepared to…renegotiate an entirely new contract or find a different team of partners.” 

Top House Republicans leading the charge to scrutinize the Oracle Cerner EHR system, like Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-MT., say the tech giant’s contract should be ended and the money returned to the government.

VA in talks to introduce more accountability to Oracle Cerner EHR contract: official | FedScoop