Cerner’s VA scheduling system has encountered new problems


Government regulators have pointed to problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new dispatch platform, which is part of the billions of dollars effort Modernize the institution’s electronic health record system.

The new system was built by Cerner as part of the $10 billion contractThe Office of the Inspector General of Virginia stated in a report released on Thursday that although Virginia was aware of “significant” system and process restrictions, it was introduced at two facilities in Washington State and Ohio last year.

The report reads: “These restrictions reduce the effectiveness of the system and may delay patient care.”

A modernization effort was launched last year to provide veterans with a comprehensive health record based on the system used by the Department of Defense.

Part of the project aims to make it easier for veterans to schedule care appointments, replacing system Since the 1980s, VA medical institutions have been using it.

The Veterans Health Administration, the Office of Modernization of Electronic Health Records, and Cerner are responsible for implementing the dispatch system, and Cerner trains dispatchers and providers to use it.

According to the report, although Oehrm was aware of performance issues caused by the evaluations that occurred between November 2018 and July 2020, it was not fully resolved before the system went live in Columbus.

According to OIG, the dispatcher encountered problems when changing the appointment type and needed to manually create a new order or ask the provider to submit a new order.

They also cannot automatically mail appointment letter reminders, which is allowed by the old system, and the new system lacks the previous supervisory report that can be used to track and monitor patient waiting time.

OIG stated that VA leaders did not provide dispatchers with sufficient opportunities to determine the limitations of the new system before implementation.

OIG said that after the implementation of the new system in Columbus, there were more problems, but these problems were not resolved before Spokane went live.

The system lacks information about certain clinics, appointment types, and providers, and some dispatchers are unable to schedule appointments.

According to the report, when deployed in Columbus and Spokane, the data from the old VHA system was not accurately or completely transferred to the new dispatch system. Automatic appointment calls provided misleading information and needed to be closed.

The OIG report read: “Facilities staff stated that it usually takes more than a week for Cerner to close the help order, which unnecessarily delays the care of some patients.”

OIG wrote in its report that VA lacked a mechanism to assess whether Cerner had complied with the timeliness requirements of its contract.

OIG recommends that VA “resolve these issues as soon as possible, preferably before deploying more new EHR systems in future facilities”.

VA plans to fully implement the new dispatch system in all facilities by December, but future deployments will be March At the same time, conduct a strategic review of the entire plan.

OIG recommends that VA improve scheduling training, better involve dispatchers in testing and improvement, publish guidelines on measuring patient waiting time in the new system, track help sheets that comply with Cerner contract terms, and formulate strategies to solve problems and evaluate patients in a timely manner .

VA agrees with these recommendations.

Cerner’s senior vice president of government services, Brian Sandager, stated in a written statement to Modern Healthcare that it is implementing changes in accordance with VA’s instructions.

“Cerner takes our responsibilities to veterans and veterans providers seriously. The new system should help Department of Veterans Affairs staff improve veterans’ access to care,” Sandag said.

“The report stated that the dispatcher praised the system for being more user-friendly and emphasized the convenience of arranging video visits. We are still participating in gathering feedback at the Spokane and Columbus sites and implementing changes in accordance with VA’s instructions. It is important to do this. One point, we continue to work on this mission,” he said.



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