DoD, VA make strides with joint EHR

Ink re-compete contract
By Tom Sullivan
08:07 AM
An integrated electronic health record between DoD and VA – the fate of which has faced uncertainty in recent months – may now be moving in the forward direction. 
Despite DoD announcing in May that it would be looking for an EHR on the commercial market rather than implementing an iEHR with VA, both departments awarded a re-compete contract for iEHR.
The Interagency Program Office said on Wednesday that Systems Made Simple won that contract, under which SMS "will provide systems integration and engineering support for executing the iEHR initiative," according to a prepared statement. 
SMS originally won the contract in 2012, under a one-year agreement that called for it to bid again in a process open to competing bids, according to a company spokesperson.
"Transitioning health records from one complex healthcare system to another involves unprecedented coordination of data and information between the DoD and the VA," SMS wrote, explaining that it "will help ensure that clinicians can access one holistic health record for each military veteran."
That single look at a patient’s record has been the publicly-stated goal of iEHR all along, though the departments came under fire early this year when they announced a shift in their approach, news that triggered multitude iEHR obituaries, while officials insisted that the fundamental strategy remains the same.
Last week DoD revealed that it would hold EHR demonstrations with interested vendors as part of its research into a new electronic health record system, though it stopped short of providing any potential next steps after that.
The three main parts of SMS’ focus will be to: facilitate data interoperability between VA and DoD systems; oversee planning of a service-oriented architecture model for that integration; and create terminology translation services that deliver data in a common format.
Building on that the IPO intends "to create data through a single, common health record between all VA and DoD medical facilities," SMS noted, adding that doing so will arm healthcare providers with the tools to access health data of both veterans and active service members.
SMS president and co-founder Al Nardisco explained in the statement that the company is a service-disabled, veteran-owned business. The company did not state the contract's value.
The step forward with the iEHR contract comes after months of stalled progress, financial uncertainties and back-and-forths on whether or not both departments were going to move ahead with their plans. Original estimates for the iEHR were pegged at $4 billion to $6 billion. However, back in September 2012, the Interagency Program Office revised its previous estimates, figuring the final price tag to be from $8 billion to $12 billion, which officials then said necessitated a change in strategy. 
This article was originally reported at Government Health IT.