The U.S. Department of State issued a request for information (RFI) for a new electronic health record (EHR) system on FedBizOpps.gov last week.
In the RFI, the State Department says it is considering a new EHR system to serve its Bureau of Medical Services (MED), which manages a worldwide healthcare program providing medical services for State Department and other U.S. government employees and their families serving abroad at U.S. diplomatic missions. The Bureau of Medical Services is comprised of a headquarters unit located in Washington, D.C. and MED Health Units located a number of U.S. diplomatic missions.
“MED seeks to improve the quality and efficiency of care it delivers across its global enterprise,” the department stated in its RFI.
The State Department’s need for a new EHR system is tied to the U.S. Coast Guard’s failed effort to procure and implement a new Epic EHR system after it terminated its contract with Epic in 2015 at a cost of about $60 million. Three years ago, the Coast Guard discontinued an Integrated Health Information System (IHiS) implementation project, which is an expansion of an EHR implementation project as part of a contract awarded to Verona, Wis.-based Epic Systems in 2010.
According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, at the same time that the IHiS project was being planned and designed, the Department of State also was planning to develop an EHR system. In order to reduce the overall cost to both parties, the Department of State signed an interagency agreement with the Coast Guard to utilize the IHiS for that department’s personnel. When the EHR couldn’t be implemented, State withdrew from the partnership.
Back in 2016, Coast Guard officials said the department is pursuing an alternative EHR system, and, in the interim, Coast Guard physicians are continuing to use paper-based records. This past January, during a U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation subcommittee hearing, Congressional leaders expressed frustration over the U.S. Coast Guard’s failure to implement a new EHR system, and urged the agency to implement the same EHR system currently being rolled out by the Department of Defense (DoD).
The scope of the market research, according to the State Department, includes an evaluation of the benefits and risks of Department of State shared EHR services and partnership with other federal agencies. RFI specifically notes shared services opportunities with federal agencies implementing commercial off-the-shelf EHR systems, such as the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The market research also will include a comprehensive assessment to determine the best solution for the Department, and an assessment of other ambulatory EHR commercial off-the-shelf products currently on the market that may meet MED’s EHR requirements.
“The Independent Review (IR) will include overall recommendations as to the best EHR solution for DOS and identify risks that may impact the success of the IT project, as well as any mitigating measures and related costs,” DOS wrote in the request for information.
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