Tester Statement on VA Electronic Health Record System Report

Report responds to concerns raised by VA medical staff, veterans, and Congress

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement today following a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) highlighting a set of reforms for the Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program:

“The men and women who risk their lives to defend our country deserve to get the care they have earned when they return home. We’re far from where we need to be in using this new EHR to deliver health care for veterans, which is why VA must aggressively renegotiate this contract with better terms for taxpayers by the time the current agreement expires in May. I will continue to hold VA and Oracle Cerner accountable to right the ship of the EHRM program, and will be demanding more answers at our Committee’s oversight hearing next week.”

Known as the EHRM Sprint Report, the document is a result of a several month review VA conducted to reform broad parts of the EHRM program to make it more responsive to the concerns from VA medical personnel, veterans, Congress, and independent audits such as those from VA’s Office of Inspector General. It lists a set of targeted changes VA has or will take to improve the program.

Tester has long fought to increase the effectiveness and ensure the safety of the new EHR system currently used by VA health care staff at five hospitals to deliver care to veterans. The Senator championed the bipartisan, bicameral VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act to increase transparency and oversight of the EHR project by requiring the VA Secretary to submit additional reports to Congress regarding costs, performance metrics, and patient safety issues related to the new EHR. He also fought to secure a significant provision in the fiscal year 2023 omnibus law to withhold 25 percent of VA’s budget for the program until the VA Secretary reports to Congress on improvements made to the system’s stability, usability, patient safety and related issues to better protect veterans and taxpayers. That law also included Tester’s bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs Information Technology Reform Act of 2021, which overhauls the planning and oversight for all large VA IT projects.

Chairman Tester has called on VA and Oracle Cerner leaders to fix challenges beleaguering the new system before moving forward at other hospitals and clinics. He is leading a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing to examine the future path on the EHRM program next week.