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VA renegotiates health record modernization contract

The fraught effort by the Department of Veterans Affairs to modernize its electronic health care record system will now be governed by a modified contract that the agency pledged will boost accountability over a process that has drawn concern from lawmakers. 

According to an overview of the updated agreement shared by a congressional aide Tuesday, the renegotiated arrangement has built in a series of performance metrics to ensure contractor Oracle Cerner is incentivized to log improvements in areas ranging from minimizing system crashes to enabling interoperability with the system and other platforms. 

The overview, which the aide said was provided by the VA earlier on Tuesday, states the new contract contains larger fines that Oracle Cerner will have to pay if executives aren’t able to meet expectations laid out in the framework. 

The original contract, signed in 2018, included a five-year base period and five-year extension option. However, the overview noted that under the updated parameters, that five-year extension has been tweaked to five one-year terms, allowing VA “the opportunity to review our progress and renegotiate again in a year if need be.” 

“Ultimately, we believe that this new contract gives VA the tools we need to hold Oracle Cerner accountable to deliver an EHR that will meaningfully improve Veterans’ health outcomes and benefits,” the overview states. “The system has not delivered for Veterans or VA clinicians to date, but we are stopping at nothing to get this right — and we will deliver the efficient, well-functioning system that Veterans and clinicians deserve.” 

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