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by Travis Dalton
Published on July 29, 2019

"The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) just announced the successful migration of health records of 23.5 million Veterans into a Cerner shared data center with the Department of Defense (DoD). This is the foundation of interoperability ⁠— the ability for VA, DoD and community providers to access the right data, at the right place, at the right time ⁠— ensuring a lifetime of seamless care for Veterans, Service members and their families. Not only is migrating four decades worth of patient information a historic accomplishment for VA, but it's also the most comprehensive health data migration ever.

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. We congratulate VA’s Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM) on achieving this milestone. Cerner and our partners are honored and humbled to be part of this journey." ⁠— Travis Dalton, president, Cerner Government Services

Jack Bates, acting director, Data Migration and Management, OEHRM, shared this post July 26 on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Blog:

For years, VA employees, Veterans and community care providers have looked forward to a seamless electronic health record (EHR) solution to improve patient care and support.

Recently, that dream came closer to becoming reality with the successful transfer of 23.5 million Veterans’ health records to a shared data center with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). This massive accomplishment sets the stage for the “go-live” of VA’s EHR solution next year.

Go-live refers to the point when the current health record system, called Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), is “turned off” within a facility, and VA’s new EHR system will be “turned on.” During go-live, all designated systems and services will transition to the new VA EHR platform.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie shared VA’s community sentiments: “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. 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.”

This initial data migration phase, which began in late spring, foreshadows even more exciting improvements to come. When the new EHR completes implementation, it will replace the 130 plus instances of the current VistA system in a streamlined solution that also powers DoD’s Military Health System (MHS GENESIS).

To put the magnitude of this OEHRM milestone into perspective, here are some fun data facts:

  • Collectively, over 78 billion records have been compiled from all VA medical centers to include in this transfer.
  • These records total 50 terabytes (equivalent to about 850,000 hours of music) of data storage.
  • This data spans 21 clinical domains of patient health records, which includes lab results; pharmacy prescriptions; inpatient and outpatient diagnoses and procedures; and other Veteran medical data.

This milestone moves VA one step closer toward achieving an interoperable EHR system that will provide Veterans, Service members and their families with a single health record and a lifetime of seamless care. The efficiency and improvements found in the EHR will also make for a more welcoming, customer-centric environment with streamlined messaging and scheduling capabilities, improved interoperability and enhanced self-service options for VA staff, Veterans and caregivers.

For more information about VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization, read the press release here