VA To Compete for Pentagon’s EHR Contract, Official Says

March 17, 2014 in News

On Thursday, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki told lawmakers that VA plans to submit an advanced version of its electronic health record system as part of the competitive bidding process to replace the Department of Defense’s current EHR system, EHR Intelligence reports.

Background

In February 2013, DOD and VA officials announced plans to halt a joint integrated EHR, or iEHR system, and instead focus on making their current EHR systems more interoperable.

The iEHR project aimed to allow every service member to maintain a single EHR throughout his or her career and lifetime.

The House and Senate in December 2013 approved a funding bill — the National Defense Authorization Act — that required VA and DOD to develop a plan for an interoperable or single electronic health record system by Jan. 31.

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report that said DOD and VA “have not substantiated their claims” that implementing separate, interoperable electronic health record systems will be more affordable and quicker than their original plan to develop a joint EHR system for both agencies (iHealthBeat, 3/3).

Shinseki Comments

During a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing last week, Shinseki said VA intends to develop an advanced version of its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture EHR — which will be called VistA Evolution — that will be on par with commercial EHR software (Brewin, NextGov, 3/13).

However, Congress has frozen 75% of the $251 million VA requested to improve its EHR system until an EHR interoperability plan is presented to and approved by Congress (EHR Intelligence, 3/14).

He said, “We want to be in competition” for the DOD EHR replacement. However, he noted that if DOD creates a software module that meets VA’s needs, the agency “will go after that” (NextGov, 3/13).

Pentagon Estimates New EHR Will Cost $1.5B

Meanwhile, the process of procuring a new EHR system is slated to cost the Defense Health Agency $1.5 billion from 2017 through 2019, according to recently disclosed budget documents, NextGov reports (Brewin, NewxtGov, 3/14).

In January, DOD announced that it would keep its current EHR system through the end of 2018 (iHealthBeat, 1/6).

DHA said it planned to launch a new EHR in phases from 2016 to 2019. DHA said it would test the system in 2016 at a site in Fort Lewis, Wash., with plans to fully deploy it by 2019.

According to the budget documents, DHA estimated it will spend $16 million over a three-year period to develop the information exchange.

DHA also increased its budget request by $70 million to $723 million to cover the costs of operating and maintaining its current EHR systems, including the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application and the Composite Health Care System, which is used for clinician order entry.

In addition, DHA projected spending $12.5 million over five years on the Theater Medical Information Program-Joint, which provides EHR systems to deployed units (NextGov, 3/14).

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