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Hidden Costs, Flawed Training Plague the V.A.'s Huge Software Upgrade


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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters in Washington, DC.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tried several times to modernize its sprawling, aging health records system before deciding in 2018 to replace it.

Credit: Tom Brenner/The New York Times

The Department of Veterans Affairs is in the process of overhauling the country's oldest electronic health record system at the country's largest hospital network. Even if it goes smoothly, planners have repeatedly warned, it will be an extremely complicated task that will take 10 years and cost more than $16 billion.

And so far, it is going anything but smoothly.

The new health record software is supposed to increase efficiency and speed up care in the beleaguered veterans' health system, which serves more than nine million veterans. But when the department put it into use for the first time in October at a V.A. medical center in Washington State, it did the opposite.

The department's inspector general issued two scathing reports on the rollout this week. One found that the company that was awarded a no-bid contract by the Trump administration to do the overhaul underestimated costs by billions. The other report said the training program for hospital staff that the company created was so flawed and confusing that many employees considered it "an utter waste of time."

From The New York Times
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