American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

VA Continues to Modernize Electronic Health Records System: VistA

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization convened a July 25 hearing, VistA Transition: Assessing the Future of an Electronic Health Records Pioneer. For more than 30 years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has used a homegrown electronic health record (EHR) system developed by clinicians—the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA). Under a $10 billion contract that the VA signed with Cerner last May, the VA plans to transition to a Cerner EHR beginning in 2020. The decision came as the result of VistA’s lack of new capacities, as well as poor interoperability between the VA, the Department of Defense (DOD), and private health care providers.

Much of the hearing focused on the high cost of maintaining VistA during the transition to Cerner. The VA provides health care services to approximately 9 million veterans and their families, with the DOD accounting for many more beneficiaries. Achieving interoperability between the VA and DOD will allow physicians to access critical health information and serve as a platform for other public and private sectors in need of EHR reform. As Congress and the Administration continue to explore policy solutions to achieve interoperability, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) remains engaged to ensure that these solutions promote patient safety and continuity of care.

For details on congressional activities related to health information technology, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at For information on congressional activities related to the DOD and VA, contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at

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