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by Brent Shafer
Published on May 17, 2018

This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Cerner signed a historic agreement to create seamless care by modernizing technology and creating a longitudinal electronic health record (EHR) for veterans. The VA has made this program one of its top priorities, and it is a privilege to lead this important project and work with the VA to improve care for our nation’s veterans. 

Technology is rapidly evolving, and the cost of maintaining expensive, decentralized systems is unsustainable. The VA made the necessary decision to invest in a modern, more efficient solution that achieves the VA’s vision for a truly interoperable system and allows VA to focus more of its resources on providing veterans with better care.

At its core, this effort will use Cerner’s EHR to achieve interoperability among the VA, other federal entities and the commercial sector. Linking the veteran and military populations through a single health record is critical to provide veterans the high-quality care they deserve and will help advance interoperability across the industry. The technology is designed to provide service members a smoother transition when they leave active duty, as well as provide VA clinicians the information they need to help veterans get the best individualized care available.

My father, a World War II Army Veteran, received care from the VA for many years. I lost him last fall, but I take comfort knowing he was looked after by some of the very best clinicians in the world. I am eternally grateful for the dedicated and mission-driven individuals who work at the VA. Cerner is committed to providing the necessary tools to the many people who work at the VA to help every veteran receive the quality of care my father received and deserves. 

For two decades, Cerner has led efforts that advocate for the adoption and use of common standards and practices that advance interoperability to make the most relevant and complete information available from an individual’s lifetime of care available, with their consent, to clinicians from around the world.

This agreement will benefit veterans and catalyze wide-scale adoption of innovation across the health care industry. I’d like to extend my appreciation specifically to John Windom, the VA’s Program Executive Officer, and Dr. Ashwini Zenooz, Chief Medical Officer, VA Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM), for their stewardship of this important program.

Earlier this year, the VA announced its open API data exchange initiative, in which health care organizations voluntarily collaborate with the agency to map health data to industry standards. 

Outside of health care, there are plenty of examples where competing organizations have come together to solve interoperability. It's happening in retail, entertainment, banking, manufacturing and distribution, and it needs to happen in health care. You can go to any ATM in the world to access your money, and our mobile phones operate efficiently regardless of network or manufacturer. It’s clear change is necessary. The average person in the United States has seen 18 different doctors in their lifetime, and veterans receive care from the VA, the Department of Defense and their community providers. The free flow of information is critical to delivering higher quality and cost-effective health outcomes. 

Cerner was founded to change the way we administer and deliver health care by leveraging innovative technological solutions. As the son of a veteran, this mission is personal for me and is at the core of Cerner as a company. We are honored to work with the VA on this important program, and we call on all our industry partners to join with us as we work to improve health care.

For the official news release, go here

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