In a new report, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the agency’s first deployment site for its Electronic Health Records Modernization (EHRM) program lacks access to critical EHR metrics, and said that puts the hospital’s accreditation status at risk.

The June 1 report found gaps in available quality and patient safety metrics, more than a year after the EHRM deployment at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., in October 2020.

The OIG said it is “concerned” about the lack of these metrics, which could disrupt accurate and timely patient safety monitoring and prevent the identification of areas for improvement. Additionally, the OIG warned that the lack of these metrics “may compromise the facility’s future hospital accreditation status.”

“The OIG identified significant gaps in new EHR metrics available for internal use in operation decisions, for publication for patient decision-making, and for reporting to accrediting bodies,” the report says. “The OIG remains concerned that, despite the concerted efforts of facility staff to use workarounds to manage gaps in the new EHR’s metrics, deficits in new EHR metrics may negatively affect organizational performance, quality and patient safety, and access to care.”

The report found that the 17 metrics required for hospital accreditation were unavailable at the facility. What’s more, one Veterans Health Administration (VHA) leader told the OIG “absolutely not” when asked about the facility’s readiness for an upcoming accreditation survey by The Joint Commission.

The OIG said if the facility were to lose its accreditation, it “may affect patients’ trust in the facility and can also hinder the facility’s ability to recruit quality staff who may prefer to work for an accredited facility.”

The OIG recommends VA Deputy Secretary Donald Remy complete an evaluation of gaps in new EHR metrics and factors affecting the availability of such metrics and take action “as warranted.”

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Remy agreed with the recommendations and said the VA will “conduct an evaluation of remaining gaps and develop action plans to resolve them.” The VA’s target date to resolve these issues is October.

The VA EHRM system has come under fire from both the OIG and Congress to resolve existing issues from its troubled rollout. Lawmakers have asked VA to pause its EHRM rollout until the issues at Mann-Grandstaff are resolved, but the VA remains confident in its EHRM deployment schedule.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.