Electronic Health Records

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Wash. Health System Pilots IBM-Epic EHR Platform for DHMSM

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

More than a week, representatives from IBM and Epic Systems revealed details about their joint big to receive the $11-billion Department of Defense (DoD) EHR modernization award. These included pilot tests of its unique Epic EHR within an IBM infrastructure to evaluate the effectiveness of their offering in a secure environment similar to that of the Military Health System (MHS).

According to The News Tribune, a health system in Washington State will soon play a part in strengthening the IBM-Epic proposal for the Defense Healthcare Management Systems Modernization (DHMSM) contract.

Kathleen Cooper reports that Tacoma’s MultiCare Health Systems will serve as a pilot installation site because of its experience using an Epic EHR as well as its history communicating and exchanging health information with MHS sites and private healthcare organization. Specifically, the report highlights the more than 8000 instances of health information exchange (HIE) between MultiCare and Madigan Army Medical Center and the Veterans Administration.

Recently, Epic and IBM unveiled 17-member advisory group of healthcare executives to assist in their acquisition of the DHMSM contract. The likes of Kaiser Permanente and Geisinger Health System were highly visible, indicating that the bidding team is bringing its biggest guns to bear on the $11-billion award.

During that unveiling, IBM’s Managing Partner of Federal Services Andy Maner also revealed that the two companies were conducting pilot implementations of the Epic EHR platform at MHS-like sites.

“What we wanted to do was have Epic running and have the opportunity to integrate and test, add new functionality, integrate other pieces of the big package so that there were no surprises,” he told reporters. “We just wanted to make sure we were getting ahead. Obviously Epic is live all over the country, but we wanted to be a step ahead in a DOD-hardened environment.”

In fact, EHR testing at Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in West Virginia began in late 2014 to prove the readiness of the IBM-Epic EHR platform for initial capability beginning in 2016.

The ramping up of activities by the IBM-Epic partnership is mirrored by the decision of a competitor bid led by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) to add Google to its retinue. The PwC team already includes DSS, MedSphere, and General Dynamics Technology and is offering a secure open-source EHR solution to the DHMSM project.

“Google is known for its expertise in innovative, secure and open technologies, and the power of Internet scale. Their capabilities can complement our proposed open-architecture solution and bring added value, agility and flexibility to the new Military Health System,” PwC’s Global and US Public Sector Leader Scott McIntyre said earlier this week. “Google can assist us in delivering a cost-effective and efficient solution to serve the healthcare needs of our military.”

With many big names bidding for the sizeable DoD contract, competition is likely to be fierce.

 

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