DOD takes next step in modernizing electronic health records

By Jim Garamone
DOD News, Defense Media Activity

The Defense Department has issued a request for proposals to modernize its electronic health records and allow DOD to share health data with the private sector and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It is a multi-billion dollar request to replace many of the current DOD legacy health care systems. This includes Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA), Composite Health Care System (CHCS) (inpatient), and most components of the Theater Medical Information Program-Joint (TMIP-J), with the objective of achieving initial fielding of a modernized replacement by the end of calendar year 2016.

“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, Defense Healthcare Management Systems. “Ultimately, program success will result in continued improvement in patient safety, quality of care and readiness of forces worldwide.”

The RFP is the culmination of 11 months of intense work by the Defense Healthcare Management Systems program executive office. The key to the department’s strategy is to engage the larger Health IT marketplace to help identify a solution approach that provides best value and meets operational requirements. This approach allows the department to leverage the latest commercial technologies, improve usability, and save on costs.

“We exposed industry early and often to our requirements development process through a series of industry days, draft RFPs and targeted Requests for Information,” program manager Navy Capt. John Windom said in a letter that accompanied the RFP. “We appreciated industry’s timely input and related comments/questions throughout our iterative draft RFP release process.”

Windom’s office adjudicated more than 1,500 questions/comments from industry. The intense give-and-take with industry gave both industry and the government clarity in the process, the captain said.

Officials expect to select the solution in the third quarter of fiscal 2015. Plans are for the initial operational capability to begin in the Pacific Northwest in fiscal 2016 with other regions added in waves. When fully operational, the system will support the health care needs of DOD’s current population of 9.6 million beneficiaries.

When fully operational, DHMSM is expected to support medical readiness for DOD’s military personnel and support the department’s current population of more than 9.6 million beneficiaries and over 153,000 Military Health System personnel.

Interoperability is a key tenet of the proposal. Not only DoD and VA will need the information contained in the electronic health record system, but civilian health care providers also need access to support continuity of patient care. Civilian health care organizations provide nearly 60 percent of health care for service members and their families. The Office of the National Coordinator and a DOD/VA interagency program office set the protocols and interfaces that all systems will seek to align to.

Through the DOD’s EHR modernization, the DHMS program executive office will also continue to improve health data sharing capabilities with the VA and private sector health care providers, officials said. This allows clinician and beneficiary access to information whenever and wherever it’s needed.

The DOD is a leader in health information data sharing and it will not compromise the transition of active duty members to veteran status, officials said.

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