The Department of Veterans Affairs’ electronic health records platform was hit with an outage Thursday that affected pharmacy services, FedScoop understands.
According to government sources, electronic health record pharmacy services were unavailable for outpatients for much of the day. The issue was detected at 8:35 a.m. eastern time and resolved at about 6:19 p.m. eastern time, after Oracle Cerner engineers identified that the downtime was caused by an application package coding issue.
During that downtime, veterans and active-duty service members were unable to fill prescription orders through Medication Manager Retail (MMR), which is a retail pharmacy module that forms part of the EHR system. MMR is designed to provide pharmacists with the information they need to ensure patients receive the correct medication.
In a separate reported IT incident, certain patients were also unable to access Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, which is a computerized database of military sponsors, families and others around the world who are eligible for U.S. military healthcare benefits. The issues with this system resolved without intervention from technicians, and the VA is undertaking a root cause analysis.
The outages represent the latest problems to afflict the VA’s troubled electronic health records modernization program, which has provoked ire from lawmakers and VA frontline medical staff.
The VA’s Office of Inspector General earlier this year published a trio of reports that identified major concerns about care coordination, ticketing and medication management associated with the EHR program launch.
The implementation of the VA’s new EHR system on an Oracle Cerner developed platform to medical centers around the country has been delayed from its original estimates by at least one to two years due to long-identified issues with the program’s reliability and safety that could put veterans in danger.
Oracle Cerner and the VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.