On March 24, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) reintroduced legislation that calls for an integrated electronic health record (iEHR) for military members and veterans, with $50 million going to the creator of the system.
In 2013, the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) announced they would forgo plans to build a new health records system to be used jointly by the departments and instead pursue less expensive technologies to make their individual systems more interoperable. Initially, DoD and VA expected to fully implement the iEHR system by 2017, but those plans went awry.
Since then, DoD has been accepting bids for its $11 billion mega multi-billion dollar EHR modernization project. Several heavyweights in both the defense contracting and EHR industries are competing to win that bid, with a winner to be decided sometime this year, perhaps as early as spring.
While on the surface it might look like the two projects have conflicting timeframes, Roe’s staff told Politco that DoD is moving forward with a competition, “but they are missing the most important feature of a new EHR system—that it be compatible with the VA system so that service members can have a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life. “The VA has no plans to move away from VistA, its open-source EHR,” the representative noted, adding that "until the VA and DoD can adopt a single platform to work from, there will be interoperability problems,” according to the Politco report.
The winning vendor of the iEHR contract will receive a lump sum of $50 million and the cost of contacting and implementation will be $25 million per year over a period of five years, Roe said. According to Roe, this bill would utilize private American innovation to finally deliver on an iEHR system. This system would enhance the transfer of medical records between the DoD and the VA to help streamline the coordination of care and benefits claims for those that have served, he said.
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