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Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough acknowledged that his confidence in the new $16 billion electronic health record system “has been shaken” by new setbacks, including new evidence that the switch has led to dangerous medical complications in some patients.

“Now I know there have been cases of harm to patients,” McDonough said at a press conference on Wednesday. “A number of factors could contribute to this, but the patient safety team here in Virginia cannot rule out that electronic health records played a role.”

McDonough’s comments come less than a week after department officials announced they would delay rollout of Oracle Cerner Millennium software at new sites in Oregon and Washington until 2023 and delay deployment at healthcare facilities in Idaho until next month.

Officials said the steps “will enable Oracle Cerner to implement important system enhancements and make necessary improvements to ensure system stability … as well as address outstanding issues to address research workflow issues.”

But a day later This is reported by the Press Secretary-review. that the inspector general’s draft report found that at least 148 veterans were affected by errors and omissions in medical records since the system was rolled out last year at the first facilities in Washington state.

The newspaper reported that the system was unable to deliver more than 11,000 orders for specialized care, lab work and other services, all without alerting healthcare workers to the loss of orders.

McDonough acknowledged that the report was being finalized and did not directly comment on the Inspector General’s findings.

But he did admit for the first time that the documentation system had caused major problems in veteran care, a line that in the past he said would force him to stop deploying in the interest of patient safety.

A $16 billion 10-year record overhaul was initiated by President Donald Trump to bring veterans’ medical records in line with military records. In the past, the two agencies used separate record systems with middleware to transfer data between them, creating information problems for patients and physicians.

The new facility move to 2023 is the latest of several delays in the rollout schedule, including a complete shutdown of the program in the summer of 2021 to evaluate other training and operations issues raised by the Inspector General.

McDonough dodged questions about what the VA would do if the documentation system did not meet the department’s standards for accuracy and reliability.

“Now we are doing everything we can to make this Serner option work,” he said. “Because we all believe that the best thing for our patients’ outcome, for patient safety, and for our physicians’ practice, is a well-functioning electronic health record.”

Earlier this week, Oracle Cerner officials released a statement saying they are making technical changes to the system “with a focus on patient safety to ensure the system exceeds provider, patient and VA expectations.” They also promised to commit “significantly more resources to this program” in the coming months.

But lawmakers are increasingly frustrated by the setbacks and growing reports of potential medical complications caused by the new system.

On Wednesday, ahead of McDonough’s press conference, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Tacano, D-Calif., and Technology Commission Chairman Frank Mrwan, D-Ind., called the draft reports “seriously troubling,” especially in light of the upbeat assessment. record systems presented to Congress by Virginia officials in recent months.

“We have already begun discussions with VA about Cerner’s work and have requested an official briefing on the upcoming report,” the couple said in a statement. “After publication, we will carefully examine the results to determine if there are any contractual or legal implications of these actions. [inspector general] preliminary conclusions.

Virginia officials said despite the controversy, they still plan to start using the new documentation system at the Virginia State Medical Center in Boise on July 23. Ohio State employees began using the system earlier this spring.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for wartime. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, with a particular focus on military and veterans policy. His work has received numerous awards, including the 2009 Polk Award, the 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Journalism Leadership Award, and the VFW News Media Award.

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