VA to use same electronic health record system as military

VA to use same electronic health record system as military
© Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will replace its legacy electronic health record system with the same commercial system currently used by the U.S. military.

The move to modernize the VA's information technology systems was announced Monday by VA Secretary David Shulkin, who said the department will move from its current VistA system to the commercial Military Health System (MHS) Genesis system currently used by the Defense Department.

The move means that veterans’ electronic records will follow them after they retire from the service.


“Our current VistA system is in need of major modernization to keep pace with the improvements in health information technology and cybersecurity, and software development is not a core competency of VA,” Shulkin said during Monday's press conference.

“I said recently to Congress that I was committed to getting VA out of the software business, that I didn’t see remaining in that business as benefiting veterans. And, because of that, we’re making a decision to move towards a commercial off-the-shelf product,” he said.

Shulkin said the decision “will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system and enable seamless care between the departments without the manual and electronic exchange and reconciliation of data between two separate systems.” 

Shulkin had previously confirmed that the department would transition to a commercial electronic health record system. 

The VA secretary said he came to the decision after reviewing audits, studies and reports, including the Commission on Care report released last year, and by consulting chief information officers and leaders of health systems across the country. 

Shulkin, the only holdover from the Obama administration in President Trump’s Cabinet, will award a contract to Cerner Corporation for the same system currently used by the Department of Defense. 

Trump, who emphasized his commitment to improving veteran healthcare during the campaign, cheered the decision earlier Monday.

“No more complications. The records will now be able to follow the veteran when they leave service — meaning faster, better, and far better quality care,” Trump said. “This is one of the biggest wins for our veterans in decades.”

Shulkin told reporters Monday afternoon that he believes the decision will garner bipartisan support.