Military’s New Digital Health System Is a Billion-Dollar Bust So Far
Health Care

Military’s New Digital Health System Is a Billion-Dollar Bust So Far

Politico reports that a multi-billion-dollar effort by the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration to create a unified, electronic medical record system has failed to reach its objectives so far, with potentially dire consequences for patients involved in a test roll-out.

President Trump said last year that the goal of the new system was to deliver “faster, better, and far better quality care” for active duty military personnel and veterans, but according to Politico, “the military’s $4.3 billion Cerner medical record system has utterly failed to achieve those goals at the first hospitals that went online. Instead, technical glitches and poor training have caused dangerous errors and reduced the number of patients who can be treated.”

Doctors at the four test sites, all military medical facilities in the Pacific Northwest, have complained of failed referral requests, misrouted prescription orders, long log-in times and frequent forced log-outs. Some medical practitioners dealing with the new records system reportedly quit their jobs due to worries that patients could be harmed or even killed as a result of the errors. “We took a broken system and just broke it completely,” said one doctor.

The system is still in the test phase, with the Department of Defense portion of the project stretching until at least 2022, and the Pentagon says there’s still time to iron out the kinks. However, in December, VA Secretary David Shulkin delayed signing a 10-year, $10 billion contract with Cerner, the software developer, that would fund the installation of the digital record system at the agency, due to concerns about how the system is performing. While the VA is still expected to select Cerner as the vendor, some doctors involved in the project are worried that it will be years before the system works properly, if it ever does.

You can read the full Politico story here