VA transfers 23.5M veteran health records to Cerner data center

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has completed the initial data migration for its Electronic Health Record Modernization by transferring the records of 23.5 million veterans to a Cerner data center.

Both the VA and the Department of Defense will share the data center hosted at Cerner’s Kansas City headquarters as the two agencies look to implement a common Cerner Millennium EHR system.

Also See: Cerner data center to support DoD and VA EHRs

According to the VA, the 23.5 million veteran health records that were recently transferred to the shared data center with DoD will be processed this summer.

"For decades, VA and DoD have been struggling to achieve interoperability and seamlessly share patient records between our health systems—placing an unfair burden on our veterans and their families,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a written statement. “No veteran, family member or caregiver should have to carry boxes of paper, medical and service records around. This data migration is the first step to solving that problem for good.”

Travis Dalton, president of Cerner Government Services, contends that the VA’s ultimate goal of migrating four decades’ worth of patient information is a “historic accomplishment” and represents the “most comprehensive health data migration ever.”

Currently, more than 78 billion records—50 terabytes of data—have been gathered so far from the VA’s medical centers, drawn from 21 clinical areas, including lab results, prescriptions, diagnoses and procedures, as well as other medical information.

The goal is to create a lifetime health record that will facilitate the transition of active duty military members to veteran status, as the VA replaces its legacy Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) with the Cerner EHR.

“New data will move into the Cerner system automatically from VistA in near real time, and then make its way to the Cerner Millennium EHR, which will provide shared access with VA, DoD and community care providers,” according to the VA’s announcement. “As future phases are completed, service members’ medical records from their years of active duty will reside in one comprehensive EHR. This modernization effort moves VA one step closer toward achieving an interoperable EHR system that will improve military career transitions and drive better clinical outcomes.”

“This rich data set, combined with our analytics, will help improve care throughout the VA system and beyond—one more proof point that VA is on the path to truly transform care for veterans and revolutionize care for all,” said Cerner’s Dalton in a separate written statement. “We congratulate VA’s Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization on achieving this milestone. Cerner and our partners are honored and humbled to be part of this journey.”

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