Cerner President Zane Burke suggests DoD MHS Genesis criticism fake news


Just one day after signing a $10 billion EHR contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Cerner President Zane Burke told investors that the company’s other major government project with the Defense Department has taught him a lot about ‘fake news’ and that one of Cerner’s competitors may have been involved.

“I have learned the term fake news a little bit,” Burke said on a call with investors. “If you followed the one side of this, there’s been concern about some of the delivery on the DoD side. So, if you had an axe to grind with us and wanted to perhaps keep us from getting to a veterans contract – and you’re one of our competitors – you might want to use some information negatively.” 

Burke was likely referring to multiple media reports that came to light early this year that pointed to serious user issues with four of the DoD pilot test sites. Members of Congress caught wind of these and let DoD officials know they were concerned.

But a DoD Initial Operational Test and Evaluation report released on May 11 echoed a lot of those reports and found that issues with usability, cybersecurity, user training and the help desk rendered the platform “not operationally suitable.”

DoD officials agreed with recommendations made in the report, but refuted the negative reports and said the EHR rollout will continue as scheduled.

Burke echoed those sentiments.

“I tell you that’s gone incredibly well, overall,” Burke said. “There were some known elements upfront as we rolled through the first three sites. The plan was always to come back and do a remediation of those three sites and do an evaluation and make things better.”

Burke said the good news in all this is that Cerner’s client, the DoD, understands the value of what the software company is delivering. 

To Burke, the VA contract provides a real opportunity to “provide seamless care across the continuum” and ensure that men and women in the service can keep their records with them as they move into the VA. Not only that, but the $10 billion contract is half of the projected cost to support VistA for the next 20 years if VA kept that proprietary EHR and its modernization in-house. 

Former VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, announced his plan to give the EHR modernization contract to Cerner through a no-bid process to expedite the project and to match the platform currently in a pilot phase. Not all EHR vendors were pleased with this decision, and CliniComp actually sued to stop the process. The judge later dismissed that case.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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