Veterans Affairs To Get Cerner EHR Glitch-tastic Deal Discount, Uptime Target Miss

Cerner will discount its health record contract deal using a credit process for failing to meet contractual performance targets based on reporting from EHR Intelligence. VA’s head of the EHR transition, Dr. Terry Adirim did not provide specifics as discount that would be applied.

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Terry Adirim, program executive director of the VA EHR Modernization (EHRM) Integration Office, said in response to questions from The Spokesman-Review that Cerner will give VA a credit in exchange for falling short of the target. However, she did not specify how much Cerner will provide a discount.

The electronic health record (EHR) transition has seen one road bump after another including being partially or entirely unusable 50 times in the past two years. VA agreed to pay $10 billion for the new EHR system that’s become glitch-tastic. Some current estimates of the deal estimate it will cost over $20 billion.

The EHR transition is led by Adirim. She testified to Congress last month about the numerous problems plaguing the program. The former DOD bureaucrat vociferously defended the program by either defining away concerns or by making frontline VA employees seem inept and stubborn.

Cerner said it has “proactively initiated a technical review” after the system was partially or completely unusable so many times that it is required to discount the contract that was initiated in 2018.

To run some math, after four years, the $10 billion EHR system will now receive a “technical review.” Why did they wait so long to figure out why their system is not properly working?

Cerner says it is taking proactive steps to include assessing internal processes and training.

Adirim admitted the system has been down 30 hours and 33 minutes since its launch.

VA previously confirmed the EHR system was partially or entirely unusable 50 times during that same period, including nine “unplanned outages” and 42 “unplanned degradations.”

EHR Intelligence reported:

The downtime total does not include all the reliability problems veterans and VA employees have faced for over a year and a half, nor do the reported outages or degradations, according to definitions of both terms Adirim provided.

She explained that an outage is an “unscheduled event where a clinician is unable to use the electronic health record because the entire system is down.”

A degradation is “when all systems and applications are available, but all clinicians experience a similar issue, including the system running slower than normal,” she said.

A third category which involves “system errors, latency, and application incomplete functionality” while “portions of it were still working,” was not included in the total incidents.

Adirim said VA tracks those issues through “trouble tickets” users can submit to report problems.

Neither figure includes incidents on April 25 and 26 when the system was not fully accessible for several more hours, the news outlet reported.

If you ever watch Adirim, she conveys some degree of disdain for VA employees and Congressional hearings. It made me wonder how she ever will manage to complete the task at hand given how well entrenched VA employees are in most instances.

Remember, the VA Secretary role will change hands every couple years, but the head of a particular VA facility, which is the military equivalent of a general, will stay in that role until being promoted out or retiring.

She noted that the April 25 incident, which occurred while Donald Remy, VA deputy secretary, visited Mann-Grandstaff, was initially considered an outage but later reclassified as “incomplete functionality and performance degradation” that lasted about two hours.

The following day, while Remy visited the Walla Walla hospital and Adirim testified before a House subcommittee, the EHR went down completely.

VA claims Walla Walla was a huge success, but problems were noted at that location despite operating under limited capacity. Reports are surfacing that employees are not submitting complaints out of fear.

UPDATED: Article and title clarified to highlight source reporting by EHR Intelligence and cause of the credit/discount.


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  1. @Steven – – – Looks like we have a bit of common ground here. I could not reply to your post on the other article either.

    Seven Pillars of Wisdom (and other writings) of Colonel Lawrence are also on my shelves. In my younger years, I rode motorcycles (Harley’s, Triumph’s, Norton’s) quite a bit. Always wanted, never owned a Brough Superior SS 100 with the big JAP (Jonathan A. Prestwick) engine. Did not buy my first car until I was in my late fifties. I love to read and fiction is not my forte.

  2. For 10 Bn, the VA could have hired some of the best programmers in the world and got it done right the 1st time, and saved 9 Bn.

  3. I was involved in a couple $100MM projects – and a bunch more in the $50 range. Every one of those power plants had stacks of Liquidated Damage clauses tied to delivery and performance, plus hold-back provisions equal to 5 – 10% of total contract value.

    When grilling the VA Sec, did any of our daring and brave members (limp) of Congress ask the Sec about the contracts and Cerner liability? I’m pretty sure we know the answer to that. Government doesn’t demand performance from its contractors. In fact, it has the opposite in allowances for cost over-runs. “We offered the VA a wee little discount cuz we feel so bad and we do this in service to our beloved veterans”…. But don’t ask how much ye slack-jawed knaves.

    Anyone else feel that big beautiful very strong and powerful non/bi/trans-partisan red white and blue infected schwanzstucker get rammed up your bung-hole?

    Gets me all flag wavy ‘n shit

  4. Ben, the new EHR is perpetuates the same existing problems for each individual veteran when wrong or inaccurate medical record info is transferred.

    There appears to be some hope for Gulf War Vets who were told by the VA their illness was all in their heads and not the chemical weapons they were exposed to.

    ” In the years following the war, veterans who sought medical help at the Department of Veterans Affairs were greeted with skepticism and sent to psychiatrists for mental health treatment. ”


    “Researchers Think They’ve Found the Cause of Gulf War Illness”

    1. Hey 6,
      Here’s today’s article;

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