(Congressman Mike Simpson Press Release, February 1, 2023)
Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson last week joined Veterans Affairs Chairman Mike Bost (R-IL) in introducing H.R. 592, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Electronic Health Record Modernization Improvement Act, to further protect veterans’ access to quality healthcare.
Congressman Simpson has repeatedly raised concerns about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) rollout of the new Electronic Health Record (EHR) system at the Boise VA Medical Center (VAMC), which was postponed from the original go-live date of June 25, 2022, then to July 23, 2022, and now tentatively to 2024.
While initially intended to improve care coordination and increase efficiency, over the past year, the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released multiple reports detailing deficiencies with the new EHR system, which was first deployed at the Mann-Grandstaff VAMC in Spokane, Washington. These deficiencies have led to delays in patient care, refilling prescriptions and managing referrals, among other things. In April, Congressman Simpson raised concerns to VA regarding these OIG reports and requested information on steps being taken to ensure these issues do not further impede veteran care during the planned rollout at the Boise VAMC. Though a few of these deficiencies have been addressed, numerous outstanding issues remain.
In addition to actions Congressman Simpson has already taken by meeting with Boise VAMC leaders and providers, Veterans Health Administration stakeholders, and requesting the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to visit the Boise VAMC, this legislation will further protect Idaho Veterans’ access to healthcare by ensuring the new system is not fully implemented until certain criteria are met.
EHRM Improvement Act:
- The bill would prevent VA from implementing the EHR at any new site until its director, chief of staff, and its Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) director certify that:
- The build and configuration of the system are correct for the site;
- The staff and infrastructure of the site are adequately prepared; and
- The EHR will not have adverse impacts on wait times, patient safety, or quality.
- The bill would also prevent VA from starting go-live preparation activities (such as readiness assessments, workshops, training, or testing) at any new sites until the Secretary certifies that:
- The EHR has 99.9% uptime for four months; and
- All improvements that have been tasked on Oracle Cerner’s contract at the time of the bill’s enactment have been completed.
“Providing adequate access to healthcare and resources for our veterans is absolutely essential. I am deeply concerned about the rollout of the new EHR system and remain committed to working with VA, hospital and provider staff, and veterans themselves to ensure this right for veterans in Idaho and across our nation,” said Simpson. “This bill is an important step in ensuring the EHR is safe and effective before it is implemented at another VA facility. Our veterans deserve the best treatment available on behalf of their sacrifice and service to our country and I am eager for the bill’s timely consideration on the House floor.”