- The US Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Medical Services (MED) recently issued a request for information (RFI) to identify potential health IT companies capable of meeting the department’s needs for a new EHR implementation.
MED is responsible for managing a worldwide healthcare program providing medical services for government employees serving abroad on diplomatic missions, as well as their families. The department currently has care sites at the MED headquarters in Washington DC, along with several other MED diplomatic missions outside the country.
DOS stated the new EHR system should support shared service opportunities with other federal agencies also implementing EHR systems, including VA and DoD.
Additionally, DOS said the new system must comply with all applicable mandates, requirements, and initiatives including CMS meaningful use criteria and HIPAA requirements. The EHR system should ultimately meet the department’s needs in a cost effective way.
DoD is currently in the process of launching its MHS GENESIS implementation at care sites across the country, while VA is in the process of completing negotiations for a likely $16 billion Cerner EHR implementation contract. DoD and VA will benefit from improved interoperability between care sites since the EHR systems in place at both departments will operate on Cerner platforms.
DOS will evaluate the benefits and risks of sharing EHR services in partnership with other federal agencies and assess commercial ambulatory EHR solutions currently on the market. Additionally, DOS will conduct an independent review including recommendations on the best EHR solution for the department.
The department will also use the review to “identify risks that may impact the success of the IT project, as well as any mitigating measures and related costs,” according to the RFI.
The independent review will ultimately include details about an acquisition cost, cost benefit analysis, return of investment, and impact on net operating costs.
“The analysis must also specifically cite the benefits of the EHR project to MED, the Department and other federal agencies for which MED provides overseas medical care,” clarified DOS officials.
DOS added in its RFI that it is interested in information about potentially pursuing a phased approach to implementation. EHR vendors can deploy subject matter experts to conduct an evaluation of their product by interview, document reviews, email communication, and site visits. However, DOS stated it will not be conducting direct testing of any EHR systems as part of the RFI.
The department is also seeking industry feedback about the best type of contract for DOS to draw up to facilitate the successful development of an EHR implementation project, among other areas of interest.
The Coast Guard similarly put out an RFI searching for a new commercial EHR system in 2017 after terminating a $14 million implementation contract with Epic due to inconsistences. The unsuccessful five-year effort prompted the Coast Guard to take a more cautious, well-informed approach before committing to a new health IT solution.
EHR vendors interested in servicing the Coast Guard will be responsible for implementing the EHR system at all 178 of its sites.
The integrated EHR system would replace the Coast Guard’s current paper health records system.
GAO Director of Information Technology Management Issues David Powner recommended the Coast Guard seriously consider implementing a Cerner EHR system at a January 2018 subcommittee hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
In October 2017, Cerner executives expressed an interest in landing additional EHR contracts with federal agencies beyond DoD and VA, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Coast Guard, Indian Health Facilities, and State Medicaid programs.
During the third quarter 2017 earnings call with investors, Cerner leadership suggested government business would contribute significantly to the company’s growth in the future.