Issues with the VA’s electronic health records program

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Ed Meagher, former chief technology officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, discusses why he believes that the current VA EHR plan is unworkable, and how people can support veterans during the holiday season through Operation Covert Santa.


The Department of Veterans Affairs is in some hot water with Congress. During a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, lawmakers were shocked to find that the electronic health record program was already $350 million over budget. Ed Meagher, former VA chief technology officer and president of Vetegic, LLC., says that in addition to these budgetary issues, VA’s plan to implement a Cerner-based EHR system is unworkable.

“It’s doomed from the beginning for many reasons. I list eight separate reasons, four of which I call violations of the laws of gravity and four are more cultural and management. This system that they are proposing to deliver for both DoD and VA has never, ever been shown to be able to operate at the scale and scope that it will have to operate to replace what VISTA does today,” Meagher said. “And to my knowledge, there’s no key performance indicators to know where they are along the path to success. In fact, success is in the mind of the beholder. It doesn’t clearly say what constitutes success. Getting away from the technology of it, they are going to change lives of about a half million people. They have not really consulted with them. I would liken this to an old FedEx commercial where they are rebuilding the plane while it’s in flight. They are going to have to rebuild two planes while in flight… Everyone wants this to succeed, it just can’t.”

Mr. Meagher’s current role was incorrectly identified as Executive Vice President of Healthcare Strategy at Information Innovators Inc. It has been corrected above.