EXPERTS SAY QUICK ACTION NEEDED FOR VA’S CERNER CONTRACT: As the House Veterans Affairs Committee today takes its first crack at oversight of the $10 billion contract to transform the VA’s digital health records, critics say the agency needs stronger leadership to assure the project succeeds, Morning eHealth’s Arthur Allen reports.
The VA made an apparent move in that direction late Monday, saying in an internal memo that it was reorganizing the office responsible for the implementation. The formally established Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization will be led by a chief health information officer and a deputy chief, it said. (More on that for Pros here.)
Two sources — one inside the VA and one out — said Genevieve Morris, HHS’s principal deputy coordinator for health IT, would henceforth lead the effort. At ONC, Morris has led work on a trusted exchange framework for the exchange of health information. She was detailed to the VA earlier this year. However, a VA spokesman said John Windom, who also led the Pentagon’s Cerner acquisition, was still on the job.
Officials within the VA say that the various parts of the 330,000-employee agency — including the Office of Information and Technology, the Veterans Health and Benefits administrations, and the EHR project team — will need to coordinate better than they have to date.
“Right now there’s complete chaos,” said a mid-level official, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said many of his colleagues were unclear about the intentions of former Trump campaign officials who occupy senior leadership positions in the VA’s EHR Modernization office.
The Senate is expected to confirm Robert Wilkie, a senior defense official, as the new VA secretary after his hearing Wednesday. But the agency has no permanent leader of its health administration or information and technology branch. Pros can read the rest of Arthur’s story here.