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DOD to Pursue Commercial EMR

May 23, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a recently obtained memo by NextGov, the Department of Defense (DoD) will look into securing a commercial electronic medical record (EMR). The memo indicates the agency will pass on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’ Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) as the basis of its EHR core, and comes a few months after both groups nixed plans for a joint EMR.

According to Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense, a competitive process will allow the agency to find a product that can “offer reduced cost, reduced schedule and technical risk, and access to increased current capability and future growth in capability by leveraging ongoing advances in the commercial marketplace.”

In the memo, Hagel says there are many reasons for the VA to select VistA as its legacy system, but many of those reasons don’t apply to the DoD. For a few months prior to the release of this memo, the VA encouraged the DoD to the VistA system.

Hagel does note that VistA will likely be “part of one or more competitive offerings” the DoD receives. He also says the two agencies will have to continue to work together to develop interoperability.

A few months ago, the two announced their decision to forgo plans to build a new health records system to be used jointly by the departments. They announced they’d pursue less expensive technologies to make their individual systems more interoperable. Recently, the House Appropriations Committee set aside $344 million for the development of a single joint system between the two.

According to a report from NextGov, the DoD has found 20 vendors that are capable of “modernizing” its EMR system.


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