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VA, DoD EHR Modernization to Drive Federal Health IT Growth

EHR modernization efforts at VA and DoD will spur the most growth in health IT over the next 5 years, according to market research.

VA, DoD EHR modernization to spur health IT growth.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Over the next five years, growth in federal health IT will primarily be driven by investments at VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) for EHR modernization efforts, according to the Federal Market Analysis team at GovWin from Deltek.  

In GovWin’s April 2018 Federal Health IT market report, researchers offered a forward-looking analysis of the federal health IT market from 2018 to 2023 and provided recommendations to health IT vendors on how to maximize opportunities to pursue business with federal agencies.

Analysts assessed the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request, economic forecasts, congressional documents, White House and agency policies, agency budget documentation, reports and strategic plans, Inspector General reports, and other source materials to develop forecasts about future spending trends.

“Federal health care expenditures are expected to climb as the Medicare population grows, and as health care costs for the military and veterans continue their upward trajectory,” advised Senior Federal Research Analyst Angie Petty and Principal Federal Research Analyst Christine French. “Federal agencies must find a way to increase efficiency and effectiveness, lower costs and improve outcomes.”

Federal agencies are working to lower costs associated with care delivery and improve patient health outcomes in part by replacing legacy systems with commercial EHR implementations. All care sites within DoD, VA and the Coast Guard will operate on Cerner EHR systems in an effort to improve interoperability and care coordination between federal departments.

Analysts also predicted the federal government’s role in health IT policy may become less prescriptive moving forward, due to budget constraints as well as administrative and industry pressures. For 2018, CMS made efforts to reduce regulatory burden associated with quality reporting by launching the Meaningful Measures and Patients Over Paperwork initiatives.

While health IT spending at VA and DoD will likely continue to climb, analysts predict CMS will reduce spending in the next five years.

“CMS is in the process of modernizing systems while also modifying them to support pay for value rather than quantity of services,” wrote co-authors Petty and French. “Moving to cloud and shared services is a key aspect of modernization efforts.”

Ultimately, researchers suggested health IT vendors have the most opportunities to engage federal agencies with health-related missions focused on data sharing, interoperability, and patient access to health records.  

“Look for ancillary opportunities to support EHR implementation efforts at DoD and VA, such as solutions for interoperability with outside health care organizations, application development for use by doctors and/or patients that leverages EHR data, infrastructure upgrades, and solutions for functions that will not be provided by the new EHRs,” advised Petty and French.

Health IT vendors should also assist agencies in their modernization efforts through shared service offerings and cloud computing solutions, as well as by providing clear return on investments (ROI) and creative financial solutions.

Additionally, authors recommended health IT innovators and vendors assist agencies with navigating new and developing technologies.

“Guide agencies through the emerging technology maze of blockchain, FHIR, predictive analytics, AI, machine learning, etc.,” wrote authors. “Vendors that understand agencies’ current needs and architecture, and can articulate the best options for implementation or use of new technologies, will have an advantage.”

During a third quarter 2017 earnings call with investors, Cerner expressed an interesting in landing EHR contracts with federal agencies beyond DoD and VA. With the Coast Guard now piggybacking onto DoD’s $4.3 million contract to implement MHS GENESIS, Cerner will likely turn its attention to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Indian Health Facilities, and State Medicaid programs.

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