As the rulemaking process starts, another tangential component to the VA health system also has to be implemented: the new electronic health records project contracted to Cerner Corp.
Roe noted that this process is likely to be disruptive for the department, and will no doubt be complicated by the fact that officials will also be figuring out the details of Choice —or, as he phrased it, "this incredibly complex bill that we have put together."
Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie, whose vetting to take over as secretary is slated to start in the Senate this week, will be running point on both Choice and the Cerner contract. And, as Roe noted, getting the VA's EHR system interoperable with other systems will be a core component for the private physicians and hospitals handling VA care. The goal is interoperability with other systems.
But like Choice, the EHR project has also been held up this year. The department delayed signing the contract—first announced on a no-bid basis nearly a year ago—over disagreements about defining interoperability, which is exactly what the new EHR is supposed to solve.
The 10-year, $10 billion contract was finally signed May 17, and the House passed an oversight measure that would require quarterly updates on the project. That bill has gone to the Senate VA Committee for further consideration.