News: VA EHR modernization costs to increase

CDI Strategies - Volume 15, Issue 22

The ongoing VA efforts to modernize their electronic health record (EHR) system will likely cost between $1 billion and $2.6 billion more than originally estimated, according to an audit performed by the Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

When the modernization program began in 2018, VA administration reported the new EHR implementation would cost roughly $16 billion over a 10-year period. The OIG audit found, however that the two formal physical infrastructure cost estimates from June and November 2019 may have been underestimated by $1 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively.

The audit stated that at the beginning of the program, the VA administrators of the project stated that the contract was for the system itself rather than in infrastructure. The VA clarified that it was not until six months after the contract was given to the vendor that key VA administrative staff were first made aware of the physical infrastructure modifications.

The OIG audit also found that the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM) did not include physical infrastructure upgrade costs in the program’s life cycle cost estimate. Additionally, the audit found that the VA did not receive an independent third-party cost estimate for the project, which is required by the VA financial policy.

The OIG recommended that the OEHRM ensure an independent cost estimate is performed for the program life cycle cost estimates. The OIG also recommends the VA develop a reliable cost estimate for infrastructure upgrades in accordance with VA cost-estimating standards.

Editor’s note: The OIG audit can be found here. The July /August edition of the CDI Journal will be featuring an article about technology on a budget that can be found here starting July 1.

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