DoD calls for best bids on EHR project

'We are not just buying an off-the-shelf system.'
By Erin McCann
11:07 AM
It's official. After 11 months of talk, the Department of Defense is now taking proposals for its electronic health record modernization project, a plan which officials say will eliminate barriers to exchanging the health data of DoD's 9.6 million beneficiaries between agencies.  
The contract could be valued at up to $11 billion, according to the request for proposals. The project's top priorities will consist of replacing outdated DoD legacy healthcare systems, including the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (DoD's current EHR system), the inpatient Composite Health Care System, in addition to several components of the Theater Medical Information Program-Joint. DoD officials expect to select the vendor come third quarter of FY 2015.  
"We are not just buying an off-the-shelf system; we're really looking to modernize how the department delivers healthcare," said Christopher Miller, program executive officer, Defense Healthcare Management Systems, in a press statement announcing the RFP. "Ultimately, program success will result in continued improvement in patient safety, quality of care and readiness of forces worldwide."
As government officials noted, interoperability between information systems is among the chief end goals of the project, and will allow for data to be shared with both the private and public sectors, regardless of where the patient is treated. Currently, the systems do not interface well with each other, which has the potential to negatively affect patient care.  
Earlier this summer, EHR behemoth Epic Systems announced it was teaming up with tech giant IBM to compete for the DoD Healthcare Management Systems Modernization contract. The partnership, company officials noted, will leverage Epic's interoperable platform with IBM's system integration, change management and operations. 
"Service members, their families and the healthcare providers who care for them deserve the best healthcare our country can provide," said Carl Dvorak, president of Epic, in a June 10 statement. "They would benefit from an integrated system that leverages best practices from other large and successful healthcare organizations."
Epic and IBM are not going unchallenged, however. They face some fierce competition from other industry heavyweights.
For one, IT firm Computer Sciences Corp., Allscripts and HP announced they were joining forces to go after the 10-year DoD contract, company officials announced late June, touting CSC's extensive experience in the government arena, Allscripts' sizable customer base and HP's history of developing military IT projects. 
Then in July, Cerner, Leidos and Accenture formed a triumvirate, where they, too, would vie for the multi-billion dollar bid. 
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