Trump budget for VA includes $4.2B to modernize IT infrastructure

President Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs includes $4.2 billion for information technology—$129 million above the FY 2018 budget—to modernize the VA’s IT infrastructure.

The FY 2019 budget request includes $1.2 billion to start implementing a new electronic health record system from Cerner that is intended to replace the agency’s decades-old Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture. Of the $1.2 billion for the effort, $675 million is slated for the EHR contract, $412 million for infrastructure support and $120 million for program management.

Both the VA and Department of Defense will implement Cerner’s Millennium EHR platform in an attempt to achieve full VA-DoD interoperability.

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According to the agency, a “single, accurate, lifetime electronic health record” from Cerner will “improve VA services and significantly enhance the safety and coordination of care for veterans who receive medical care, not only from VA, but the Department of Defense and community partners.”

However, the VA is still trying to finalize a $10 billion sole-source contract award to Cerner for the EHR. Negotiations with the vendor have been put on hold pending an independent assessment of the VA’s interoperability requirements for the commercial system.

Also See: VA delays EHR award to Cerner pending interoperability assessment

Trump’s FY 2019 budget request for VA also includes nearly $400 million for information security as well as $381 million for new IT development projects including the cloud-based Digital Health Platform (DHP), designed to integrate veteran data from agency, military and commercial EHRs—as well as apps, devices and wearables—so that the information is available to providers in real time.

DHP is envisioned as the VA’s future path for providing next-generation healthcare to millions of the country’s veterans. In a DHP proof-of-concept conducted in late 2016, the Georgia Institute of Technology successfully demonstrated mature and emerging interoperability technologies from both the public and private sectors.

As part of the proof-of-concept, 21 system application programming interfaces were created to control how specific types of data flow into and out of the DHP, which included data exchanges with a Cerner EHR and Epic system.

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