Tanya Bradsher, the Biden administration’s nominee to become deputy secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), told senators at a confirmation hearing on May 31 that her top priority at the agency – if her nomination is confirmed – would be to help fix the troubled rollout of the agency’s Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) program.

Bradsher, who is now chief of staff at VA, said her stance moving forward would be a “boots on the ground” approach when fixing EHR issues that have already cropped up at the five VA facilities where the Oracle-Cerner EHR system has already been deployed.

“First and foremost, the deputy secretary [is] ultimately responsible for the Electronic Healthcare Record [program], and if confirmed, that responsibility… will fall fully on my shoulders,” Bradsher said at the May 31 hearing before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Widespread criticism of the EHR program rollout has included the agency’s failure to incorporate user feedback in order to improve how the technology is working for veterans and VA personnel.

“Our clinicians… have not seen the results of their comments come back and executed within the Electronic Healthcare Record. So, we have [that] opportunity now … with the reset of the five sites,” said Bradsher.

The nominee also said she would tackle the issue of scaling up the EHR deployment to larger VA facilities.

“Right now, we’re at medium and small facilities [and] we need to be able to also scale it to a large facility,” said Bradsher.

During the hearing, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., noted the frustration many have had with the EHR system rollout at VA facilities in her state.

“It is really put a strain on our providers and on our veterans … but I continue to hear from people on the ground in my communities that their feedback is not being taken into account, or even heard,” said Sen. Murray.

Last month, VA announced it renewed its contract with Oracle-Cerner on the EHR program on a yearly basis for another five years, and that the contract includes measures to keep Oracle-Cerner accountable for progress and fixes.

“We need to have enterprise-wide changes and ensure that we hold Cerner Oracle accountable so that those changes actually happen,” Bradsher said.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.