Defense deals boost vendors

By Jack Beaudoin
12:00 AM

Experience with the Department of Defense, Veterans Administration and other government agencies is suddenly paying off for healthcare IT firms.

In recent months, vendors have discovered that citing DoD as a client carries value in the commercial world. "People who understand the DoD environment today are looking at us and saying (our experience) is a good thing," explains Force 3's Ed Lewis. "What the DoD has done in healthcare is really state-of-the-art."

On the basis of its consulting work for the Air Force and the DoD, Force 3 is rolling out a new set of commercially available products this year. In late March, Force 3 formally announced its HIPAA compliance program and Lewis says the commercial version owes much to Force 3's government background.

One explanation: the buzz surrounding the Military Health System's Composite Health Care System II, a $4 billion effort to convert to a paperless health record that can be accessed in any of the system's 75 medical centers and hospitals around the world, as well as at more than 400 clinics and even in military theaters such as Afghanistan and Iraq. CHCS II will roll out over the next 30 months, and has been a star attraction at industry shows and exhibitions.

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Larry Albert of Integic, a Virginia-based integration company that helped build CHCS II, said it helped "generate phenomenal excitement" in his firm's offerings.

The real value to vendors, Albert explained, isn't in marketing opportunities, but in lessons learned in development that later can be utilized in the commercial sector.

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