EHR Intelligence: Biden Signs Law to Improve VA EHRM Program Transparency

by Sarai Rodriguez

Following the most recent delays of the Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program through Department of Veterans Affairs, President Biden has signed a bill into law that will increase EHRM program transparency, according to a FedScoop reporting.

“The VA, and consequently our nation, has invested a great deal of time and money into the VA Electronic Health Record Modernization program,” US Senator Jerry Moran said in a public statement.

“The potential benefits of this program are important, and it is vital to get it right. Now that this legislation has been signed into law, we can make certain the VA is providing the proper transparency throughout the EHRM implementation,” he added.

The VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act of 2021-which was, in fact, introduced in 2021 but passed in 2022-will require the VA to submit periodic reports to Congress regarding the costs, performance metrics, and outcomes for EHRM.

“This will better allow the committee to conduct oversight during the deployment process to ensure veterans receive the care they deserve and hold the VA accountable for taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Moran.

On a quarterly basis, the VA must report the costs of its EHRM program to congressional committees within 90 days following the newly enacted law. Additionally, these requirements will continue until 90 days after the EHRM project has been fully implemented.

“It’s clear that VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization program is not working for veterans, VA employees, or taxpayers,” Senator John Tester said. “I’m proud to have worked with Senator Moran and our colleagues to get our bipartisan bill across the finish line, allowing us to increase oversight and transparency on behalf of the VA medical staff using this program, so we can better provide our nation’s veterans the quality care they have earned.”

The legislation was passed amid frustration among lawmakers over the lack of access to information regarding the VA’s modernization program, FedScoop reported.

“I’ve said all along that this electronic health record system is far too important to our veterans for VA to get wrong,” said Senator Tester.

This comes after the VA decided to postpone several EHR implementations in response to a draft OIG report finding that the flaws in the Cerner EHR system harmed 148 veterans since its implementation in October 2020.

However, this is not the only issue the VA’s EHRM project has had. In 2020, the Cerner EHR system at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane went down more than fifty times since it was implemented.

In 2021, two reports from OIG stated the VA underestimated the total by billions due to poor reporting practices. According to the 2021 OIG audit, the VA did not report $2.5 billion in other critical IT infrastructure upgrade costs to Congress.