***VIDEO FILE INCLUDED*** Rep. Lee Leads Hearing Examining VA’s Ongoing Veterans Electronic Health Records Project
Washington, D.C. – House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Chair Susie Lee (Nev.-03), led a hearing on the subcommittee’s continued oversight of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) ongoing efforts to implement the Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program.
When a servicemember transitions from active duty to civilian life, their health records move with them from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) health care system to the VA health care system. The goal of the EHRM project is to improve and optimize that transition to the VA health care system, ultimately improving veteran care.
Rep. Lee led this hearing to examine the continued delays of the EHRM Program, and what needs to be done between now and the new Oct. 24, 2020, go-live date:
“When we last met, we discussed the announced delay of VA’s planned March 28, 2020, go-live, which I supported due to the clear need to address critical VA staff concerns about testing and training.
“At that time, VA’s plan was to try again in July of 2020, which again had to be postponed, this time due to COVID-19 and the need to redirect clinical staff to the pandemic response and because VA program and contractor staff could not readily access VA facilities.
“VA has informed us that its latest plan is to go live in Spokane on October 24, 2020. However, other aspects of the EHRM program have changed besides the date, and I would like to discuss in detail the impact of those changes.
“Today I would like to discuss the status of testing and training, staff readiness, and ongoing communication with the veterans who will be impacted.”
Rep. Lee highlighted how the VA’s inability to implement the EHRM program in a timely manner would ultimately hurt veterans and their access to health care:
“I hope to hear today what VA’s actual plan is going forward and how it intends to address the scheduling solution in order to address longstanding challenges with ensuring veterans can access timely appointments.
“I know my colleague Ranking Member Banks shares these concerns, and we need the witnesses to give us a better understanding of the plan, how it will impact veterans, and how VA is communicating these changes to the veterans they serve.
“I have a lot of questions, and some concerns, but I am hopeful that VA is going to have a successful go-live on October 24th. It all comes down to the most important part of this entire effort—patient safety. This is my number one priority, and I expect it is also VA’s.
“We should strive to prevent any harm to a veteran and to endeavor to mitigate known risks during the course of this momentous transition. Veterans have already sacrificed so much for this country, their safety when in VA’s care is paramount.”
BACKGROUND: As Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, Rep. Lee has helped lead congressional oversight of the EHRM project, and has also helped lead the charge to improve veterans’ health care overall, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 30, 2020, Rep. Lee, along with Republican Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.-03), introduced the bipartisan VA Telehealth Expansion Act to improve and expand telehealth services for veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). On Sept. 23, this bill passed the House of Representatives as a provision of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act.