After failed attempts at joint electronic health records, DoD and VA officials have opted to make their agencies' records interoperable. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
As the Defense Department nears the target date for a final request for proposals related to a new electronic health records program, industry is preparing to vie for upward of $11 billion in spending on defense health IT modernization.
The final RFP for the DoD Healthcare Management System Modernization (DHMSM) contract is expected by the end of August, a timeline DoD officials noted to be on target in an Aug. 8 FedBizOpps update. The RFP will cover the Pentagon’s procurement of a commercial off-the-shelf health records management program, an effort that stems from a failed attempt to create a joint integrated electronic health records program between DoD and the Veterans Affairs Department.
Federal documents show a $149 million budget for DHMSM for fiscal 2015, and a contract award is expected in early in the 2015 fiscal year. The program’s price tag could reach $11 billion over the course of its life cycle through 2030, said Chris Miller, program executive officer for the DHMSM and integrated electronic health records.
Defense and VA officials abandoned plans for the joint iEHR last year amid leadership disagreements and a projected $28 billion in costs, said Frank Kendall, Defense under secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. A July 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office further underscored the joint effort’s problems, including failing to reach major milestones such as providing accurate cost estimates or an integrated deployment timeline.
In lieu of the joint iEHR program, decision-makers instead opted to focus on making the two agencies’ health records systems interoperable, with a congressionally mandated deadline for doing so by the end of 2016. For DoD, that goal centers on a new commercial program, while the VA intends to update its existing system.
Now, as industry prepares for the RFP’s release, companies have formed teams that plan to bid on the contract. So far, among the alliances are IBM, Epic Systems and Impact Advisors; Computer Sciences Corp., Allscripts and Hewlett-Packard; and Cerner, Accenture and Leidos.
In a June 25 call with reporters, Miller said defense officials have been visiting health care providers in order to get a feel for how they do things. He also said that while the technology piece of the new program will be critical, it’s not the only important piece.
“A key part of this is going to be the technology and the system we buy, but also we make sure we buy the training and change management that really make a program like this successful,” he said. “The technology is just an enabler, and we want to make sure that this program is successful, and we have to address all requirements of the acquisition.”■