DoD to explore commercial EHR options

The U.S. Department of Defense will look to the commercial market for an electronic health record system instead of developing one based on the Department of Veterans Affairs' VistA system, Nextgov has reported.

In a memo to Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall and Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (pictured) said that he was "convinced" that a competitive process is the best course of action. After a 30-day review of the much maligned integrated EHR program, Hagel said that while VistA might work for the VA, that doesn't necessarily mean it would work for the DoD, although he also said that a VistA-based solution likely would be "part of one or more" offerings received.

"A competitive process will allow DoD to consider commercial alternatives that may offer reduced cost, reduced schedule and technical risk, and access to increased current capability and future growth in capability by leveraging ongoing advances in the commercial marketplace," he said.

DoD officials had been worried that VistA would be forced upon them if iEHR progress was not realized. A petition created in late March called on DoD to adopt the VA system.

Still, Hagel said that in the near term, DoD would continue coordinated efforts with VA to "develop data federation, presentation and interoperability," something he called "a first priority."

"More interoperable EHR in the near term and a modernized EHR system in the mid term will create an environment in which clinicians and patients from both departments are able to share current and future healthcare information for continuity of care and improved treatment," Hagel said. "[I]mprovements in interoperability and EHR modernization will impact the timely processing of future claims and will provide better continuity of care to our people."

To learn more:
- here's the Nextgov article
- read the memo (.pdf)