VA taps internal informatics director to take reins of rocky EHR rollout

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has selected Dr. David Massaro as acting senior medical advisor for its Office of the Functional Champion to lead the Electronic Health Record Modernization Integration Office. He serves as the clinical executive representing the Veterans Health Administration and will lead functional initiatives to develop and implement the new EHR and support VA’s medical personnel.

While the rollout of the Cerner-developed EHR was at first encumbered by COVID-19 delays, the modernization efforts have since been plagued by issues stemming from a botched initial deployment at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington from 2020-2021 that resulted in lost records and patient harm.

According to the VA, Massaro was selected for his commitment to EHR reliability. After serving as the VHA’s director for Integrated Health Practice, Massaro was previously the acting chief of clinical informatics operations within the Office of Health Informatics. He was assigned the role of VHA senior advisor for health informatics and director for clinical integration during the establishment of the EHRM IO.

His resume includes roles as acting chief health informatics officer for the Office of Community Care and acting member of the Office of Integrated Veteran Care executive leadership team. 

Earlier in his career, Massaro was a physician executive at the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan and a VA field clinical executive, deputy and interim chief medical officer and chief of primary care at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Florida.

An Office of Inspector General report revealed a host of EHR operational, governance and oversight issues stemming from the Spokane rollout that earned the VA and the now Oracle-owned technology, implementation and costs a scathing Congressional review.

Top-ranking members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee heard from VA and Oracle executives, and drafted a VA EHR oversight bill requiring more clarity, transparency and accountability of the VA system’s transformation. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law in June.

At that time, Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, a co-sponsor of that legislation, acknowledged the VA’s EHR upgrade would offer “tremendous” benefits–if done right.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Illinois, ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said during a July 27 hearing that an end date for the VA EHR rollout must be set – and if not met, the committee must consider ending the project.

On August 4, Oracle-Cerner received monitoring alerts and the system was taken offline for just over 4 hours to recover the database, but no data was reportedly corrupted or lost, a VA spokesperson told FedScoop.

Massaro “is committed to ensuring every member of VA’s workforce using the new EHR is supported during this transformation, and that every veteran and transitioning service member has access to safe, timely and high-quality care across their entire health care experience,” according to the VA announcement.

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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