RFP officially begins DoD effort to modernize electronic health records

Tuesday - 8/26/2014, 9:51am EDT

In what may be one of the most highly watched and sought after procurements in recent memory, the Defense Department is leaving everything on the field with its electronic health record modernization project.

The Pentagon released the request for proposals for the potentially $11 billion Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization (DHMSM) Program Monday after more than a year of planning.

"We are not just buying an off-the-shelf system. We're really looking to modernize how the department delivers health care," said Christopher Miller, program executive officer of Defense Healthcare Management Systems, in a statement provided by DoD. "Ultimately, program success will result in continued improvement in patient safety, quality of care and readiness of forces worldwide."

The build-up to the RFP release included seven requests for information, three draft solicitations, four industry days, answers to more than 2,000 questions (including 1,500 from industry alone) and more than 50 one-on-one meetings with vendors. Each industry day hosted more than 100 companies interested in bidding on this procurement.

DoD and the Veterans Affairs Department have been working on a joint electronic health record system for almost a decade, but the road to interoperability was just too difficult.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in April 2013 ordered the military to restructure its approach to achieve an interoperable electronic health record with the VA.

So Hagel decided in May 2013 that DoD would buy a commercial electronic health records system, which would interoperate more easily with VA's Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) system.

The RFP DoD issued Thursday is the end of the beginning of the process to replace the military's Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA) system.

"Key to our strategy is to engage and leverage the larger health IT marketplace to help us identify a solution that provides best value and meets our operational requirements," Miller said. "This approach allows the department to leverage the latest commercial technologies, improve clinical decision making and save on costs."

DoD's strategy is a single award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract that will integrate inpatient and outpatient technology.

Bids to the RFP are due Oct. 9. DoD said it would make an award in the third quarter of 2015. Questions about the RFP are due by Sept. 8.

The Pentagon says it expects to deploy the initial operating capability of the new system to 7,000 employees in the Puget Sound region by the end of 2016.

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