Bill aims to revive quest for joint DoD-VA record system

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) has reintroduced a bill calling for development of an integrated electronic health record system between the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

In February 2014, the two agencies threw in the towel in an effort to develop a joint EHR system, but not before spending more than $1 billion, as Roe points out in an announcement.

Roe's plan is to offer a $50 million prize for creating an integrated system--one that includes claims, as well--even as DoD plans to award $11 billion for a new EHR system.

[RELATED: Pentagon EHR bidders state their case]

"The DoD is moving forward with a competition, but they are missing the most important feature of a new EHR system--that it be compatible with the VA system so that service members can have a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life. Why should taxpayers spend $11 billion if they aren't compatible?" Roe's staff told Politico, adding, "until the VA and DoD can adopt a single platform to work from, there will be interoperability problems."

Roe's bill would create a temporary panel to develop criteria for the new system within 90 days. The winner of the contract would receive a lump sum of $50 million and the cost of contacting and implementation will be $25 million per year over five years.

After interviewing three finalist bidders for the huge DoD contract, FierceEMR's Marla Durben Hirsch notes concerns about the path forward coming from some high places.

While the Government Accountability Office (GAO) listed federal IT acquisitions as a new high-risk area at risk of fraud, abuse, waste and mismanagement, the DoD is already on the high-risk list for infrastructure, systems and other problems.

And Loren Thompson, COO at the nonprofit Lexington Institute, called the DoD's approach to buying an "off the shelf" commercial product "antiquated."

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- read the Politico piece