Military CIO shares plans for EHR

June 19, 2014 in Medical Technology

David Bowen’s title might be CIO of the Military Health System but these days he calls himself an anthropologist.

The anthropology aspect of his job spans a wide-ranging consolidation across Defense Department entities, including whittling 26 e-learning systems down into one, an elimination of redundancy Bowen said is “radical” for MHS, and generally convincing high-ranking officials to give up the stalwart systems they’re comfortable using.

Perhaps no project will require that skill more than the DoD’s undergoing commercial EHR procurement.

MHS, in fact, intends to hold the third and final industry day next week, Bowen said at the Government Health IT Conference and Exhibition, adding there will be “more action later this year.”

Bowen also shared the department’s goals for the new EHR system: implement a state-of-the-art market system rather than a customized program; develop a best-value approach; emphasize alignment with national standards to prevent obsolescence; increase record portability and accessibility via phone, tablet, laptop; and increase interoperability with the Department of Veterans Affairs EHR.

“We intend to go through a process of selecting a vendor through 2014-2015, customizing it in 2016, and to begin installation in 2017,” Bowen said.

Estimating that lifecycle cost for the new EHR will be $11 billion, Bowen added that one of the challenges MHS faces is the hard reality that 95 percent of its budget gets eaten up by maintenance, leaving very little for hardware and software enhancements.

Amid all the consolidations taking place, the new EHR will drive changes in workflow, clinical practices, business processes, and standardization, all toward the overarching goal of “the power of one. One patient one record.”

“This is much more about behavior, and anthropology and change management than it is about technology,” he said. “It is a business transformation project, it is a cultural transformation project.”

The final RFP, previously slated for July, will now be in August, Bowen said.

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