Consolidation, EHR infrastructure on tap for Defense Health Agency

While 2014 was about bringing the Defense Health Agency into existence, 2015 will be about consolidation of all the moving parts of the separate armed services' medical organizations, according to Military Health System CIO David Bowen.

Currently the agency is working on transitioning individually managed systems into the DHA, Bowen recently told the Federal Times. Congress established the DHA to align and standardize IT, facility planning, contracting, budget management and medical logistics between the different branches' medical systems.

"We have teams working on how that's going to be done. Army, Navy, and Air Force, obviously had their own set of systems. So, we're going to consolidate them," Bowen said.

Electronic health record infrastructure is another big effort that the agency will look at this year, he said.

The DHA's responsibility is to make sure the infrastructure that needs to be in place to support EHRs is set and has the capability and capacity it needs.

The agency also is looking to implement data sharing with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and to establish ways to further standardized interaction with the VA ahead of the Defense Department's move to a new EHR system.

In addition, there are many issues at different military treatment facilities regarding what their local area networks and infrastructure looks like. To that end, the DHA has created a standardized model for what that should be, Bowen said. It ultimately plans to evaluate infrastructure against that model.

The agency also reported a savings of around $39 million through consolidating IT contracts, he said. It also did not spend nearly as much as anticipated to get the results needed.

When the DHA was created, the Department of Defense expected to save $672 million via consolidation over six years, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

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