Cerner, the contractor providing electronic health records systems to both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, offered an update on Tuesday on those projects and cited some early successes from test implementations.

“We’re in the early phases of this transformation. It’s a complex endeavor that will take time and involve asking passionate health care providers to change some of the processes they’ve been using for decades,” wrote Travis Dalton, president of Cerner Government Services, in a blog.

Dalton said that at the test sites for DoD’s EHR system–MHS GENESIS–hospitals saw an increased number (33 percent) of patients in ambulatory locations, and filled more prescriptions and refills (66 percent).  They also reported a nine-minute improvement in the wait time to see a doctor in the emergency department, a 40 percent increase in the number of online portal messages between patients and care teams, 2,300 fewer duplicate lab orders, and 400 fewer duplicate chest x-rays.

While Dalton touted those early successes, he also addressed some criticisms of the system, most recently stemming from a report from the DoD Joint Interoperable Test Command.

“Though some have portrayed the report’s findings as a setback for the program, these reports accomplished exactly what we intended,” said Dalton. “We welcome the feedback from the IOT&E (initial operational test & evaluation) reports as well as direct feedback from end-users and leadership at the IOC (initial operation capability) sites. We will continue to work with them to optimize and improve the system throughout the lifespan of the program.” Dalton said Cerner is “well-positioned” for the next phase of deployment for the MHS GENESIS system.

On the topic of the VA’s EHR modernization program, Dalton said the agency is still in the earlier phases of the program but said that “Cerner and the agency are committed to applying commercial best practices, as well as any lessons learned from our DoD experience.”

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MeriTalk Staff