Can Epic count on its $624 million contract for VA scheduling system work?

Government has shown itself as on-again, off-again on some of its IT projects.
By Bernie Monegain
10:57 AM
Share
Epic contract for VA

Verona, Wisconsin-based healthcare technology giant Epic Systems is in the midst of developing a medical appointment and scheduling system for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

But, with its rival Cerner having won two major military contracts recently – one from the Department of Defense and another coming from Veterans Affairs, it raises the question: Will it affect the VA work Epic has underway? It’s hard to tell.

Epic landed the five-year VA contract to build a scheduling system from scratch in 2015.

[Also: VA secretary: Cerner EHR choice brings big clinical gains]

Already, the Epic work for the VA has suffered a year of lost time, not through the vendor’s fault, but because the VA cancelled the work, saying it would fix its existing program instead. However, the VA resumed its work with Epic a year later.

Epic had been working on the medical appointments and scheduling project with Systems Made Simple, which at the time was a subsidiary of government contractor Lockheed Martin. Systems Made Simple has since been acquired by Leidos, Cerner’s main partner on military contracts.

The June 5 announcement by Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin that the VA had selected Cerner and Leidos to develop its EHR system. The Department of Defense work on a new EHR system is already underway with the same vendors.

[Also: Coast Guard next to pick Cerner? Vendor is already prepping its EHR for the high seas]

The VA did not solicit bids for the VA work, and whether Epic would have bid, Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner has not said.

Shulkin did not reference the appointment and scheduling work underway with Epic when he announced the department’s choice of Cerner and Leidos for the VA system EHR.

[Also: VA picks Cerner to replace VistA; Trump says EHR will fix agency's data sharing 'once and for all']

“As the largest electronic health record vendor in the United States, covering two-thirds of the nation’s patients, we are proud to serve our veterans both through the VA scheduling project and through our customers that care for millions of veterans across America,” Epic said on June 5. “These customers are the top health systems in America and we stand with them, committed and eager to ensure veterans get the very best medical care regardless of where they receive it.”

With the statement, Epic may be trying to head off at the pass speculation of the kind that occurred when the U.S. Coast Guard abruptly ended its EHR contract with Epic in April 2016 – a move that reportedly had the Coast Guard back to using paper documentation.

Epic executives posted a timeline of Coast Guard actions regarding the project break down. It includes two incidences of data corruption, Epic executives said had never occurred on any other project.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com


Like Healthcare IT News on Facebook and LinkedIn