WATCH: Sec VA Debates Whether Pilot Health Records Outages Put Veterans At Risk

The electronic health records system piloted at Spokane’s VA hospital and other locations has been partly or completely unusable more than 50 times since its launch in 2020.

Over the past four months, the system has experienced numerous outages including one that lasted 6 hours. Then, VA physicians and other clinicians were unable to access or update veterans’ health records.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up to date.

Employees at the Mann-Grandstaff VA in Spokane fear for the safety of veterans saying the new health record system places veterans in danger.

Meanwhile, in a VA House Committee hearing, April 28, Secretary Denis McDonough told Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont, he would not continue the rollout of the Cerner system “if I ever have any reason to think that this is creating risk for our patients.”

RELATED: VA OIG Says Cerner’s EHR Rollout Poses Risks To Patient Safety

Is It Risky To Not Use Medical Records At A Hospital?

Skip to 1:39:09 to see the exchange between Rosendale and McDonough.

McDonough stated he was familiar with the shocking stories coming out of the Mann-Grandstaff VA facility over the past few months. But he failed to explain why he breached his earlier promise with Rosendale to not rollout the system until it was fully functioning.

Who is right? Is it the employees providing emergent health care to sick and elderly disabled veterans or the bureaucrat running the agency from 810 NW Vermont?

50+ Confirmed System Irregularities

Numerous news agencies have reported on the growing mess over the past two years with The Spokesman-Review leading the charge.

The Spokesman-Review confirmed the number of outages through various communications between agency officials and the press and Congress. In all, there have been 10 unplanned outages and 42 unplanned degradations.

The outages render the system completely useless while the degradations seemingly partially limit system use.

Does that seem like a lot? Why weren’t the glitches worked out before implementing the system?

For anyone reading this with common sense, either system outages or degradations, are bad in any record system much less one relied on by a hospital system. The number of these problems eclipses any reports in recent history impacting access to VistA, the system Cerner plans to replace.

The contract for the new system was awarded to Cerner Corporation in 2018 in a no-bid contract arrangement despite objectives from various officials at the time. The contract award was $10 billion over a ten-year period.

A report from the VA Office of Inspector General estimates the cost to be as much as $21 billion plus $2 billion for each additional year it takes to finish.

Cerner Execs Testify Before Congress

Lawmakers are now skeptical of the current implementation plan asking VA leadership to delay further rollout to other locations until the glitches are fixed.

As chance would have it, the system went down during the April 26 hearing two days before the Secretary’s hearing at HVAC. Cerner apparently made a normal update to the IT system that caused the system to go down.

Skip to 2:17:35 to see full exchange with Gen. Patrick Sergeant (Ret), Cerner’s General Manager of Government Services.

The entire exchange with Major Gen. Patrick Sergeant (Ret), the new General Manager of Cerner Government Services, is worth watching. Reps. Mrvan and Rosendale had no problem putting Sergeant or his support staff on the hot seat over continued instabilities of the system.

Cerner To Review Glitches After 2 Years

Per Sergeant, AFTER TWO YEARS and multiple challenges, during the hearing, Cerner informed Congress that it would finally conduct an independent review of the Cerner system to evaluate what may be causing the chronic outages. “We will likely plan to do a technical review of the system to be sure we are doing everything properly.”


Similar Posts


  1. TO: United States Senate
    United States Congress
    Office of the President
    Office of the Vice-President

    To all concerned:

    This is coming from a group of Cancer Registry professionals that either work as employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs or as contractors doing Cancer Registry work for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    We are aware of the President’s initiative (The Cancer Moonshot) to accelerate the rate of progress against cancer. This new software will ruin any chance of advancing ANY cancer initiatives within the Department Of Veterans Affairs.

    We are very concerned regarding this CERNER EHR that the previous administration instituted.
    Some of us have a direct knowledge of it’s use as we were part of the rollout at the Spokane VA.

    As of today 3/26/22 at Spokane we have been unable to accession any new cancer cases into the cancer registry software as the CERNER record has no utility to find cases in the Pathology, Radiology or Inpatient departments of the hospital.
    So many pieces of VISTA/CPRS interface with each other to make record abstraction possible, but CERNER does not have any of these interfaces requiring for double entry of every thing into the Cancer Registry, which is probably the same for the other registries that the VA keeps, such as the Agent Orange Registry.

    Apparently part of the reason for changing medical records was so that there would be a seamless transition from military members into the VA system, this is not so. The records do not integrate with each other any better than the current VISTA/CPRS integrates with the DOD.

    We feel that this 16 Billion Dollar expense of federal funds is a step backward in the care of our veterans. The system is clumsy and difficult to use, whereas the current VISTA/CPRS system has ease of use and interoperability throughout the home hospital as well as easy access to the records at every other VA hospital and clinic in the country.

    We are aware of the President’s initiative (The Cancer Moonshot) to accelerate the rate of progress against cancer. This new software will ruin any chance of advancing ANY cancer initiatives within the Department Of Veterans Affairs.

    The CERNER record does not interact with the current Cancer Registry software that the VA has been using and updated for at least the past 20 years. Currently all demographic information from the VISTA/CPRS chart loads automatically into the Cancer Registry Record. The CERNER EHR does not have that utility and all fields need to be entered into the Cancer Registry Abstract manually which will provide all kinds opportunity for errors to be manually typed into the abstract, not only will this be a step back but will also make all the Cancer Registries in all the hospital less productive as all this manual data entry will take longer and longer to enter .

    Contracting: Companies may not be able to comply with the contractual obligations due to the impossibility of finding the cancer cases with this software.

    The new record does not contain any of the previous information from VISTA/CPRS prior to the GO LIVE date so in order to access the medical records prior to 10/2020 (or the hospital’s GOLIVE DATE) the user will have to have 2 medical records open in order to properly treat patients. And they say the that VISTA/CPRS will be retired after 2 years. So, the clinician will only have the medical records available from the Go Live Date and onward? Everything prior to 2020 or GO LIVE date will be lost??

    VISTA/CPRS has been an award winning Electronic record since in inception and has been updated and improved to meet the needs of our veterans’ health care. To throw it all away in favor of an inferior product at the cost of 16 BILLION $$ and rising, rather than to invest that tax-payer money into the current system seems illogical.

    VISTA received the Computerworld Smithsonian Award for best use of Information Technology in Medicine, and continues to the present day to receive the highest physician satisfaction scores in national Electronic Health Record (EHR) surveys[citation needed]. In 2014 and again in 2016 national surveys of over 15,000 physician users of EHRs rated VISTA with the highest overall satisfaction rating in the U.S.[4] Over 65% of all physicians trained in the U.S. rotate through the VHA and use VISTA, making VISTA the most familiar EHR in the U.S.

    We sincerely hope that the VA will end this folly with CERNER and return to it’s award winning EHR, (VISTA/CPRS) imagine what the VA’s record could be with that amount of money invested in it, rather than investing it in a private company.


    Margaret Heinikel, CTR (CANCER REGISTAR).

  2. I have been giving VA the benefit of the doubt with Myhealthevet crap since the “program” started 8+? years ago; it has never worked for more than a few days to a few weeks. Now they just put a tweak into the name of the same old glitch factory, and force US Vets to use it for whatever.

    The bottom line remains what it has been since Henry Kissinger told RMN in a recorded WH meeting that combat veterans are nothing but a garbage disposal problem. That is bipartisan cosensus Congressional honesty leaking out of the mouths of their own gurus.

    The only wisdom now delivering US grace is Eastern Wisdom from Yoga, Zen, Tao & Peaceful Martial Arts traditions. This is also why China is the primary winner of the monumentally self-defeating US Imperial War against Putin. The cards are only now beginning to fall. Remember the old SEATO dogma about all the Eastern Countries becoming communist? The got over that with Mao. Russia never did; thus Putin pursues Stalinism and wins Russia, while the US pursues extreme narcissistic finance capitalism and wins the US. Go figure, now, because China really is winning. I am telling my grand children: if you want to prepare yourself for your own adult life, study Chinese. You will need it.

  3. I am sure many of you are aware. Gone green by the Globalists in efforts to continue to destroy the country and the world. They do not care if anything gets done. Many companies are having outages. I believe most are intentional. Just like the burning down of the food facilities. Use technology whether it works or not or whether people receive information or not. Underhanded ways to scam people. I view these actions as being unethical and inhumane. Oh Ben you will chuckle at this but it is truly not funny at all. VA putting into it’s job descriptions “Help” and nothing else.
    Help referring to qualifications too. This is truly evil. Nobody can help an agency or a government that is destroying itself from within. Benjamin I do not believe they can even see this or they do and do not care. Ben, part of honoring God is honoring one’s body. And there is a God. Plus the ultimate authority on everything and everyone.

    1. Oh I fall to mention and many of you know this. The profit has become the product. Quality is gone from most industries. When under real Capitalism, the products are the profits resulting in quality delivery. Private equity companies buying up companies for the sake of wealth. Profiteerism is the problem with most of society. The leadership do not care about the products. All they care about are profits.
      Same goes here with the VA electronic record platform. Just about stealing the money from the taxpayers. They do not care about helping the veteran population. From top to bottom in government many are self seeking liars.

  4. 2002-2003, I had a teaching gig in Taiwan. Shortly before end-of-contract, I noticed a small lump on my thigh. Upon return to USA, 5/2003, I went to my VA PCP. He asked me when I first noticed it. I told him what I’ve written above. He told me, “nothing to worry about … just a fatty cyst… a lipoma.” 13 months later, the VAMC resected it with zero margins. It turned out it in fact it was something to worry about: cancer. The VAMC then referred me to a civiian medical center for corrective surgery to get tumor-free margins + radiation therapy … and told me payment was completely my responsibility. I ended up forced to file for bankruptcy, and homeless. When I checked my medical records, my VAMC PCP’s entry for the day I told him about my lump, included only this: “Was in Taiwan, teaching. Vowed never to return.”

    About the lump? Zero, nada.

    How convenient !

  5. I have received emails concerning some kind of move to a new login process. I haven’t logged in since seeing the mention of the login. On the matter of prescriptions, however, I’d suggest you call the pharmacy at your VAMC for your needs. My experience with getting meds via myhealthevet was abysmal. I was suffering from gout and wanted the colchicine or whatever it was that my PC Phys subscribed and they sent me all my other meds but nothing for gout.
    I haven’t cared enough to note the difference, but there is another health related portal: Go figure-

  6. Not being allowed to access vets records on the computer is not only occurring in Washington state, my last visit to the Lake Baldwin, Orlando FL VA clinic the computer was shutting down, then was slow as molasses in December!
    The following questions needs answered;
    When has anyone seen the VA run smoothly? When was there ever a competent person running the VA? When will we see bad VA employees get fired? Why is the VA sending their healthcare providers to other cities to give healthcare to illegal aliens? Why can’t vets use the healthcare system they prefer, instead of driving through 2 counties?
    There’s more! Just read the comments section here!!!!!!

  7. Yup. Worst healthcare in the world.


    My prescriptions are missing one pill on nearly every fill especially by mail refills. I thik they are doing it on purpose to save money in order to get much LARGER bonuses on October first every year. Corruption. gross and complex.

  8. The finest lobbying and transactional management money can buy. Functionality is a bi-product.

    Is anyone truly surprised?

  9. It is the conundrum of the 21st Century: High tech = High glitch. The end? At the rate they are destroying the economy, depleting US Creditability, and infuriating masses of citizens, who can anticipate what crap will fall from them next; most certainly more lab leaks & therefore more maliciously toxic-if-not-lethal vax horrors.

  10. This is only a minor tip of the hidden iceberg, the VA is no friend of the Veteran they deny medical care and medication and violate a veteran US Constitutional Right, they place demands on the Veteran that they do not abide by themselves ( e.g. masks are required yet behind the doors the staff does not wear them) they say exceptions are recognized, the VA will not even discuss that subject, the Director of Ft Harrison is a incompetent joke her actions are protect the worker the hell with the Veteran or truth or what is right. The VA secretary is just as bad if not worse. The reason for their existence THE VETERAN has nothing to do their actions basically their goal is SCREW the Veteran anyway they can. I cannot get medical care anywhere else being 100% disabled the VA will not provide care or my medications. You write toi the VA Sec he does not even acknowledge the letters

  11. Ben are you starting to give your
    VOC Rehab guide away this year
    Since you have made so money
    over the years?
    It would be a real Mitzvah!

    1. Hahaha, Good one, but freebies are rarely read. Buying it gives it value.

      If you want something for free, go to work for the VA. I hear they hand out paychecks twice a month for doing nothing AND it takes an act of Congress to get rid of you. Oh wait, you already DO work for the VA….

      Troll’in beats work’in.

  12. This problem seems to have invaded my access to my individual MyHealthVet access. There is a recent screen with a green button that asks me if want to try the new system. If I do not use it, I cannot access the system. If I do use the green button, it usually lets me in. However, recently it will not provide my health records. I can use the prescription refills and the secure messaging but nothing gets downloaded when I request my health notes or labs. Obviously, something is wrong. Any helpful comment will be appreciated.

Comments are closed.