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Analyst: Open Source EHR Will Combat Interoperability Issues at DoD

October 8, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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As the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) closes the competitive bidding process on its $11 billion Department of Defense Healthcare Management Systems Modernization (DHMSM) electronic health record (EHR) contract, lawmakers remain skeptical about the 10-year project’s ability to deliver, according to an analyst with research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The DHMSM is a contract to replace the U.S. military’s clinical legacy system, the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA), which covers 9.8 million beneficiaries. The contract will tie together the DoD’s EHR with VistaA, the clinical platform used at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to enable data sharing.

Bids are due by October 9, and the selection is expected in the third quarter of fiscal 2015. Several notable companies have teamed up to win the bid, including: Cerner/Intermountain Healthcare/; IBM/Epic/Impact Advisors; Computer Sciences Corp./Allscripts/Hewlett Packard; and PricewaterhouseCoopers/General Dynamics Information Technology/DSS Inc./MedSphere.  

But Adam Dion, GlobalData’s analyst covering healthcare industry dynamics, states that while many EHR firms and system integrators are vying for the coveted contract, the team led by PwC is best positioned to solve the interoperability issues plaguing previous EHR modernization efforts.

PwC threw its hat into the ring last month, with its pitch being centered on an open integrated EHR system, which its officials say would promote ease of integration with existing DoD legacy systems as well as unlimited access to ongoing EHR innovations.

“The PwC-led team is proposing an open-source EHR that would promote greater ease of integration with the existing DoD systems and comply with government requirements surrounding patient safety and quality standards. This proposal would also offer more flexibility compared to other options that would lock the government into a single technology,” Dion said in a GlobalData press release.

The analyst noted that an earlier aborted project fully satisfied just one of the six statutory conditions stipulated by lawmakers in Congress, despite costing more than $1 billion over a five-year period.

Dion added, “Not to be fooled twice, lawmakers have attached budgetary restrictions on the DHMSM contract, binding project funding to the awardees’ ability to attain data interoperability standards between the DoD and VA clinical systems…The DHMSM contract will come under considerable scrutiny, particularly after the very ugly public rollout of the website,” he said. 

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