Spokane Journal of Business

Mann-Grandstaff VA Hospital to adopt health record system by 2020

Spokane facility one of two pilot sites for big overhaul

  • Print Article

Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, in northwest Spokane, plans to adopt fully a new electronic health record system by March of 2020, that eventually will be deployed across all VA facilities nationwide.

Bret Bowers, Mann-Grandstaff spokesman, says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs chose Spokane and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System as pilot sites for the new records system before adopting it at 1,200 other VA facilities.

“This is a VA-wide design, implementation, and deployment of a new medical record that will impact all veterans and all VA health care facilities,” he says. 

Bowers says the VA has selected Cerner Corp., the Kansas City, Mo.-based health information technology supplier, to replace the department’s decades-old Veterans Integrated System Technology Architecture, also known as VistA, over the course of the next 10 years.

“After almost 40 years of use, VistA lacks the interoperability necessary to better serve our veterans and is simply too costly to maintain,” he says.

The U.S. Department of Defense has been piloting the Cerner system.

Adopting the same electronic health record system that’s being deployed at the defense department will support service members as they transition from military service, Bowers says.

The new system is expected to improve clinical outcomes by giving health care providers a full picture of patient medical history, he asserts, adding that the system also will enhance collaboration with community partners.

While the contract includes the design, implementation, and deployment of a new medical record across all VA health care facilities, Eddie Steetle, chief health informatics officer with Mann-Grandstaff, says total costs for implementation and deployment at specific facilities have yet to be determined.

“The overall contract includes $10 billion for the software development and deployment, and an additional $6 billion for the hardware and infrastructure costs required to ensure full and seamless integration across the health care spectrum,” Steetle says.

Bowers says the VA selected facilities in Spokane and the Puget Sound Health Care System to be first adopters of the Cerner system in part because of their proximity to large active military installations, Fairchild Air Force Base and Joint Base Lewis-McCord, respectively.

In July, then-acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke visited Spokane to meet with electronic records system project managers, Department of Defense officials, and leadership from Mann-Grandstaff and Fairchild Air Force Base.

Bowers says that visit was the first official visit by Veterans Affairs leadership to understand better the issues that Cerner originally had with the roll-out of the company’s system for the Department of Defense in 2017.

Following that visit, Bowers says, Mann-Grandstaff hosted a three-day current state review site visit by the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization and Cerner to identify any existing information technology, infrastructure and processes that will have to be redesigned, tested, and implemented over the next two to three years.

“The current state review in August was the kickoff toward design, development, deployment, and testing the new Cerner product here at Mann-Grandstaff to reach the go-live date of March 2020,” he says.

Bowers says Cerner and Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization staff returned to Spokane in October to launch the initial phase of records modernization at Mann-Grandstaff.. 

The Mann-Grandstaff medical center, located on a 37-acre campus at 4815 N. Assembly, and its clinics serve more than 32,000 veterans annually throughout Central and Eastern Washington, northern Idaho and northwestern Montana.

LeAnn Bjerken
  • LeAnn Bjerken

  • Email LeAnn Bjerken
  • Follow RSS feed for LeAnn Bjerken

Reporter LeAnn Bjerken covers health care at the Journal of Business. A Minnesota native and cat lover, she enjoys beachside vacations and writing poetry. LeAnn has worked for the Journal since 2015.

Read More

Sign up for our E-mail updates

including the
Morning Edition

Join our list