Niam Yaraghi to Cerner: Prepare for failure

Now that the Department of Defense has awarded its electronic health record modernization contract to a team led by Leidos and Cerner, Brookings Institution fellow Niam Yaraghi says it will be a priceless learning opportunity.

In fact, the team should prepare for failure, Yaraghi writes at U.S. News and World Report. After all, he says, that's par for the course with large government IT projects. Between 2003 to 2012, only 6 percent of federal IT projects with $10 million or more in labor costs were successful, Yaraghi says, citing research from The Standish Group.

Loren Thompson, COO at the nonprofit Lexington Institute, said prior to the award announcement that the effort is doomed to fail.

Yaraghi also says of the contract that:

  • Solving interoperability is the DoD's job, not Cerner's. Interoperability is more a political and economic issue than a technical one. The Cerner team can only do so much to put the technical capability to exchange medical information in place; how others decide to use these functionalities is out of Cerner's control, he says.
  • Leaders must learn from the failure of the Meaningful Use program. This project must focus on efficiency rather than data entry, he says. Yaraghi urges the Pentagon to prioritize the concerns of physicians in the design and implementation of the system.
  • It can become a teaching moment. If correctly and adequately documented, how Cerner handles this "mission impossible" will have a lot to teach the entire health IT sector, he says.

To learn more:
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