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Computer glitch could have delayed health care for 40K+ veterans

The entrance to the Edward P. Boland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leeds. (Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican/TNS)
November 02, 2022

Problems with a new computer system at the Department of Veterans Affairs recently led to delays in health care for more than 40,000 veterans, which led the agency to delay releasing the expensive next-generation system.

Not all of the 41,500 veterans set to receive letters from the VA will actually have delayed care, according to Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal. But that many veterans may have been victims of a glitch that kept them from being contacted about important updates, like upcoming appointments, The Spokesman Review reported.

“What we asked veterans to do in this letter … is to check their appointments, check their medications, check to make sure they have that next step in their care scheduled and confirmed, and reach out to us if they haven’t heard from us about that next step,” Elnahal said, according to

The glitch was found in the agency’s new recordkeeping system, Oracle Cerner Millennium, which has gone over-budget and drawn concerns about patient safety since it was launched in 2020 at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, according to

The VA recently announced that it would delay any further deployment of the system until June 2023.

The VA found “several” more flaws keeping medical information from reaching patients, Elnahal said, and in a press release, the VA said it found the system was slow and struggled with patient scheduling, referrals and medication management.

“Right now, the Oracle Cerner electronic health record system is not delivering for Veterans or VA health care providers – and we are holding Oracle Cerner and ourselves accountable to get this right,” said Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Donald Remy. “Veterans and clinicians deserve a seamless, modernized health record system, and we will not rest until they get it.”

The system, which has crashed repeatedly, is officially estimated to cost $16.1 billion, but this year the Institute for Defense Analysis estimated it could exceed $50 billion, reported. 

It is supposed to replace the existing decades-old one known as VistA, or Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture.