The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has selected a Lockheed Martin subsidiary to modernize and maintain the agency’s Enrollment Health Benefits Determination (EHBD) program.
The 39-month task order is valued at $33.3 million and was awarded to the Lockheed subsidiary, Systems Made Simple, under the Transformation Twenty One Total Technology (T4) contract. The EHBD program will aim to give veterans easy access to their own medical records, a wealth of information on VA health benefits, advice, and the support necessary to make informed decisions on implementing their personal health plans successfully, according to a statement from the VA.
Under this task order, Systems Made Simple will provide project management, technical architecture analysis and design, VistA electronic health records systems development, and enrollment systems development, operations and maintenance.
“EBHD will help Veterans and their families obtain high quality benefits in a timely manner, which is part of the Veterans Affairs strategy to increase the ease and convenience of the benefits enrollment process,” Horace Blackman, vice president of health and life sciences at Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions, said in a statement. “Through this important modernization effort, we will help the VA realize targeted, personalized care for veterans and their families.”
Of course, the VA has also been under the spotlight of late regarding its progress on interoperability with the Department of Defense (DoD), as well as the modernization of its electronic health record (EHR) system. Currently, the VA and DoD have different systems for their patient population of approximately 35 million. Initial plans to combine the two systems were nixed in 2013 when it was decided that VA should stick with its homegrown EHR VistA platform and DoD should go its own way with a commercial system. Indeed, in late July 2015, it was announced that a team led by Cerner Corp. and Leidos won the bid to modernize the massive Department of Defense Healthcare Management Systems Modernization EHR contract. DoD recently announced that the MHS Genesis project will launch at the end of this year.
Meanwhile, during a hearing in June, VA officials indicated that the agency will likely look for a commercial EHR system during a discussion about its 40-year-old homegrown system. During the hearing of the Senate’s Committee on Veteran Affairs, VA Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin testified that VA officials have reached a consensus that “looking at a commercial product is probably the way to go,” and he added, “But we need to do this in a way that incorporates our ability to integrate with community providers and unique needs of veterans.”