The Pentagon Contract That Could Shape EHRs For Years To Come — Epic Pays Out To Win Friends And Influence Congress

Arthur Allen | | October 17, 2014

GENTLEMEN (AND WOMEN) START YOUR (INTEROPERABLE) ENGINES: The Department of Defense’s $11 billion, 10-year contract for a new electronic health records system won’t just shape military health for the next decade, reports Ashley Gold, it could very well predict the future of electronic health records and their handling of interoperability. Proposals are due next Thursday for the federal government’s biggest contract since the rollout, and many of the major players in health IT are putting their hats in the golden ring. The contract will be like a marriage “with an extensive prenup and no divorce,” says Capt. John Windom, the Pentagon’s project manager for the Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization, (DHMSM or “dim sum,” as it’s known). DoD plans to aware a two-year contract award at first. Congress will appropriate more funds for a three-year extension, then more extensions. Everybody who wants the prize is promising to install tons of interoperability, of course — including Epic, Cerner, Allscripts and VistA, which was interoperable before the word was fashionable. On an average day, more than 1.5 million data elements are shared between the DoD and the VA.

The Pentagon’s unabashed demand for computers that talk to each other in a comprehensible way has got health IT specialists hoping the contract will set a high standard for the civilian medical world. “If we miss the opportunity to [accelerate interoperability] because we’re afraid we’re going to screw it up, that’d be an enormous loss,” says Andrew M. Wiesenthal, director of health care practice at Deloitte. “Whatever [DoD] chooses, they’re going to make the market.” Full story here: