ROUNDUP: Rep. Susie Lee Takes Charge in VA Subcommittee Hearing, Presses VA and DOD on Electronic Health Records Program

June 13, 2019
Press Release

Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, Rep. Susie Lee, pressed Veteran Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) officials yesterday on the implementation of the Electronic Health Records modernization program.This program’s purpose is to make the transition from the DOD to the VA health system easier for veterans.


Meritalk: House VA Subcommittee Questions EHR Progress and Accountability:

 

  • Right off the bat, Chairwoman Susie Lee, D-Nev., called out the Department of Defense not providing written copies of its testimony until after the close of business yesterday. Saying, “in providing oversight it’s important that we have the proper time to review documents” and that receiving the testimony so late, “does not optimize our ability to do our job.”
     

  • She further called out the agencies for “finger pointing” when it comes to taking responsibility for challenges and missteps. Her opening remarks set the atmosphere for most of the Subcommittee questioning VA and DoD witnesses about the status and accountability surrounding the rollout of the new EHR solution.
     

  • Lee specifically called out ongoing efforts regarding Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) joint governance strategy, as well as the FEHRM program office – both of which are currently in development. She said that information currently provided isn’t enough and holes are missing in what was shared with Congress thus far
     

Kansas City Business Journal: Committee chair: Joint oversight of giant Cerner projects ‘still just a concept and not an actionable plan’
 

  • In the Subcommittee on Technology Modernization hearing, Committee Chair and Nevada Democrat Susie Lee told top leaders of both agencies that Cerner (Nasdaq: CERN) and the VA and the DoD were not on the same page.
     

  • After the hearing Wednesday, Lee ended the meeting by pointing out the most important reason the VA and Cerner should create a decision-making unit: who to blame if deadlines are missed for the EHR rollout that goes live in March 2020.
     

  • "We're happy to hear you're confident you're on schedule. My concern is as we get closer and if we start to miss deadlines ... we want to understand who is responsible and without a clear plan, it puts us and the taxpayers at risk,”
     

Connecting Vets, Abbie Bennett: Lawmakers doubt VA and DOD will meet deadline for universal health records
 

  • Lee held up a one-page slide about a three-phase plan, saying it’s “hard to find where governance and accountability are in this plan” and the committee had yet to see staffing or resource details. At this point, Lee said “it appears that (those details) will come too late” and the March 2020 deadline “is fast approaching.”
     

NextGov, Jack Corrigan: Veterans Affairs officials said their upgraded health record platform will start rolling out in March, but lawmakers worry they might be jumping in too soon:
 

  • “For years, the VA and DOD have been promising a joint governance structure,” Lee said in an email to Nextgov after the hearing. “Now … it just feels like they are going through the motions to avoid dealing with the major underlying infrastructure and leadership issues. There is still a lot of risk for failing and until we see a more detailed plan, I remain concerned.”
     

Modern Healthcare: VA, Defense propose new office for EHR projects
 

  • Last week, Cerner Corp. executives told the subcommittee that the VA and Defense Department needed a more streamlined decision-making process for a successful EHR rollout.
     

  • That's troubling because "more often than not, technology was not the problem" in previous failed IT projects in the federal government, Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) said at Wednesday's hearing. "Rather, it was a failure of leadership and management."

 

 
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