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Q&A: Bidding on the Mega DoD EHR Contract

September 5, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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Lydon Neumann

The Department of Defense Healthcare Management Systems Modernization (DHMSM) contract has become a spectacle of sorts in healthcare IT.

The contract, from the DoD, is worth an estimated $11 billion and the winning bidder will get a chance to redesign and “modernize” the military health system’s IT infrastructure. Even before the request for proposal (RFP) was formally announced this past week, scores of teams comprised of various specialties in an attempt to win the “prize.”

One team is being led by the Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM and features the Verona, Wisc.-based Epic Systems, a team that some might consider formidable based on name value. Impact Advisors, a Naperville, Ill.-based firm, was brought on board with that team in a consulting and implementation services capacity. Healthcare Informatics Senior Editor Gabriel Perna spoke with Lydon Neumann, vice president at Impact Advisors, on being invited in, what they will bring to the table, and the team’s overall plans for the bid.  Ed: This Q&A reflects the perspective of a participant in the competition.

Below are excerpts from that interview.  

In what capacity is Impact teaming with Epic and IBM?

It’s based on our experience in helping implement electronic medical records (EMRs). We appear to be a natural fit for IBM and Epic to what they are doing. We provide three general services in healthcare IT: advisory, implementation, and optimization of those solutions. We will provide our experience and our resources and specific skills in how to plan for, how to implement, and ultimately get the results the DoD wants out of the system they are acquiring.

How did this opportunity come about?

IBM looked at how they would approach this and it was their opinion that Epic provided the best value for the DoD to accomplish their overall objectives. When they identified Epic as being the key software component to the overall bid, they looked for those who could compliment (Epic) through advisory and implementation services and have done it already in the marketplace.  Well for us, we’re ranked as the number one in KLAS for implementation as a principal and the last two years we’ve been named by KLAS as the number one service provider. So it was a bit of a natural step on IBM’s part to approach us and ask us to come on as a key implementer and advisor.  

So it was IBM that asked you?

The government is looking for a systems integrator to be the prime contractor. As the prime contractor they look for the software they want to propose. In this scenario, Epic is working through IBM. That’s how this works. The system integrator has to bring this team together. Then they look for other team members know how to plan for and apply (the software) into the military health system.

Have you worked on similar government projects?

Not at the federal level. We’ve helped public hospitals in our traditional commercial space. Candidly, that’s why we’re attracted to IBM. From a contracting perspective, you need someone who knows how to contract with the federal government. That would not be us. It’s much easier to be a team member than it is to be a lead in this situation.

What are some plans you’ve laid out for the DHMSM project?

There are three phases. There have been three draft RFPs, which are iterative and start to resemble what the ultimate RFP will look like (Ed: This Q&A was done before the final RFP was issued) and that’s occurred over the last half year. In addition, over the last 10-12 months there have been a series of industry days, which has been conducted by the DoD military health folks. We’ve been spending the last year planning what it will look like, what the requirements will be from a software and solution perspective, and providing support.

We are about to start the second phase when the formal RFP is released. Once it comes out, you spend the next six weeks helping finalize and put together the solution—how it looks, how it’s going to be delivered.  The bid will likely be due sometime at the end of October, maybe early November. From that point on, bidders are responding to questions and the procurement process. We may be putting together plans to how to put together the team if we’re successful in getting the contract.

When do you expect to find out?

Based on our understanding, they said they are planning to issue an award in the spring of 2015.