Tester, Blackburn Ramp Up Oversight of VA’s $16 Billion Electronic Health Record Modernization

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) are fighting to keep the VA on target and transparent on its roll-out of the new $16 billion commercial electronic health record system for nine million veterans.

The VA is currently undertaking a decade-long transition to bring veterans’ health records into the 21st century by ensuring that veterans can have access to a seamless electronic health record across the VA and Department of Defense health systems.

Tester and Blackburn introduced the VA Electronic Health Record Advisory Committee Act to establish a third-party oversight committee to help monitor the implementation of the new electronic health record system.

“The new electronic health record system is too important to veterans’ health care for the VA to get wrong,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Our bill will create another layer of accountability and oversight of the process to make sure the VA roll-out does right by the nine million veterans who will rely on this system.” 

“A crucial part of giving our veterans better care is improving the way DOD and the VA organize their health records,” said Senator Blackburn. “The EHR Advisory Committee will be entirely devoted to ensuring the implementation and transition is done as smoothly as possible. Comprised of professionals who have experience in the health care field, as well as veterans currently receiving care at the VA, this committee will have the knowledge and expertise to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the VA’s services.” 

The 11-member Committee would operate separately from the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense and would be made up of medical professionals, Information Technology and interoperability specialists, and veterans currently receiving care from the VA.

The Committee will analyze the VA’s strategy for implementation, develop a risk management plan, tour VA facilities as they transition to the new system and ensure veterans, VA employees and medical staff, and other participants have a voice in the process. The Committee will meet with the VA Secretary at least twice a year on their analysis and recommendations for implementation.

The Senators’ bill can be read online HERE.