With the Defense Department's goal of serving the military's healthcare needs "wherever and whenever care is required," expect mHealth and telehealth to play a significant role in the electronic health record platform being developed by Cerner, Accenture Federal Services and Leidos.
The three companies, collectively working as the Leidos Partnership for Defense Health, were awarded a coveted $4.3 billion, 10-year contract to overhaul the Pentagon's EHR platform for active members of the military system – many of whom rely on telehealth services to access ongoing care and care management. The partnership beat out bids from groups led by Epic and Allscripts for the contract, which could eventually total $9 billion and last some 18 years.
The Cerner team is now responsible for overhauling and managing an EHR system serving more than 9.5 million people, accessible from more than 1,000 locations around the globe.
The award comes as something of a surprise, with many experts expecting the team of Epic, IBM and Impact Advisors to get the nod. Epic officials released a statement saying they were disappointed with the DoD's decision, pointing out their technology platform includes innovative partnerships with the likes of the Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente.
Cerner's mHealth credentials are well known to mHealth News readers. Just a few months ago, the company announced a partnership with Validic to integrate that company's digital health platform into its HealthLife portal, paving the way for easy access to mHealth data from the EMR.
"The integration of patient-generated data into an EHR or patient portal allows for more initiatives by providers, like telemedicine, remote patient monitoring and incentivized wellness programs," Validic co-founder and CEO Ryan Beckland told mHealth News at the time. "Access to digital health data provides physicians, nurses, clinicians and teams with deep and verifiable insights that really cannot be gained, or necessarily trusted, from manual-entry by a patient. It makes sense for healthcare providers, as well as health IT vendors, that data integration is the next step."
Cerner has also been working with Apple to enable clinicians to access data from HealthKit, with a patient's consent, paving the way to managing the healthcare of large populations of veterans – especially those with chronic conditions – through their iPhones or other home-based mobile devices.
Defense officials said they want a new platform that meets the needs of the military no matter where they are and when they need assistance – and one that can interact with any number of platforms from other vendors. Officials told the Washington Post they hope to begin testing the platform by 2016 in eight locations in the Pacific Northwest.
"Today is just the beginning, now the hard part is going to start," Chris Miller, program executive officer for the DoD Healthcare Management Systems Modernization and Integrated Electronic Health Records, told mHealth News sister publication Healthcare IT News in this article. "Our focus now is shifting to testing. You're going to see an incredible test regime, digging deep into security, workflow, comprehensively testing the product to make sure it's ready to go before we deploy it."