The contract for the enterprise service bus meant to connect the electronic health records of the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs has not been canceled, say military and industry officials, although an industry executive acknowledged that funding for it has been reduced.
The first draft of a request for proposals for the modernized Defense Department electronic health record is set for release in January, the newly-installed head of the DoD Healthcare Management System Modernization Program told an industry audience Nov. 13.
The Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments' interagency program office awarded a 12-month, $11 million contract Oct. 9 to Systems Made Simple--the same company that originally won the iEHR contract in 2012.
Despite the fact that Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall said there's a one-in-five chance the DoD will select a VistA-based technology for its electronic health record, the odds of the department making such a selection are hurt by a 2011 Gartner report (.pdf) commissioned by the VA and obtained by FierceGovernmentIT.
An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014 (H.R. 1960), which passed June 14, would impose reporting requirements on the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments' integrated electronic health record project, as well as stand up an advisory panel to provide additional oversight.
During a July 10 joint hearing of the House Veterans Affairs and Armed Services Committees, VA and Defense Department officials laid out plans to continue pursuing two separate electronic health record solutions with the ability to interoperate in the "near term." This plan, according to a congressional source, has the approval of Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee held a closed-door meeting May 23 to discuss progress toward a VA and Defense Department integrated electronic health record. Officials were "grilled" as lawmakers pressed for answers on the project, said one attendee. "They read McGrath the riot act," said a source speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The new, Defense Health Agency-based office will pursue a DoD core solution independent of the Veterans Affairs-DoD interagency program office that was once tasked with jointly developing an integrated electronic health record for both departments, according to a memo obtained by FierceGovernmentIT. "Our intent is to collaborate with the VA on any necessary changes to the IPO Charter and Joint Strategic Plan," writes DoD acquisition czar Frank Kendall
The Veterans Affairs and Defense departments are working on a mobile application that will complement the integrated electronic health record, said Kathleen Frisbee, director of web and mobile solutions at VA.
Veterans Affairs Department information technology spending would receive $3.7 billion in the coming fiscal year under a spending bill marked up June 18 by the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on military construction and veterans affairs.