Between 2011 and 2016, the Veterans Affairs Department spent $1.1 billion on efforts that are seemingly for naught, as the agency is set to replace its existing systems with an EHR made by Cerner.
Earlier this year, lawmakers feared they would need to pass a VA Choice funding extension quickly as current funds dwindled. Now, Congress may hold off on the bill until funds run out in 2018.
As part of its effort to expand private healthcare, the VA is exploring merging its health system with the Pentagon's, a cost-saving measure that veterans groups say could threaten the viability of VA hospitals and clinics.
With the VA and Cerner set to finalize their new EHR contract, VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin assured lawmakers that the system will result in greater interoperability between the VA, Defense Department and community providers.
The Veterans Affairs Department wants to allow providers to conduct telehealth visits with patients without geographic barriers. The proposal complements recent efforts to expand technology use in veterans' healthcare.
Of the 20 veterans who die by suicide each day nationwide, only six typically have received healthcare through the VA in the year before their deaths. Manchester VA Medical Center officials want the community's help to identify others.
Rural areas are often bypassed under the agency's existing guidelines for awarding grants for veterans' homes, but Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin says that will change soon.
CliniComp, an EHR vendor that supplies software to the VA and Defense Department, says it might have been considered for the contract had the VA conducted open and competitive bidding.
The Veterans Choice program received a six-month reprieve thanks to new emergency funding, but it will take more than an influx of cash for the program to thrive, according to veterans groups.
President Donald Trump signed the bill, which will extend Veterans Choice for another six months, from his vacation in New Jersey.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee will look at ways to improve access to care for veterans, especially in rural areas, including delving into the Choice program.
The Department of Veterans Affairs initiatives will expand healthcare access and include using video technology and diagnostic tools to conduct medical exams. Veterans also will be able to use mobile devices to make and manage appointments with VA doctors.