Report: Epic likely to get massive contract to replace DoD's AHLTA EHR

A week ago, FierceEMR reported that the man who would be top doc at the Pentagon--Dr. Jonathan Woodson, President Obama's nominee for assistant secretary of defense for health affairs--wants the development of an advanced EHR to be among his top priorities, should he be confirmed for the job. As it turns out, some of the gears already are turning.

NextGov columnist Bob Brewin reports that the Military Health System's Tricare Management Activity Office quietly issued a notice on a federal solicitation website that it wants to find a commercial replacement for the clunky AHLTA EHR currently in use. The notice said MHS seeks an "interoperable set of EHR capabilities automating healthcare in a continuum of care settings including: inpatient acute care, ambulatory care, intensive care, emergency department, expeditionary (wartime, peacekeeping, disaster relief and humanitarian) and ambulatory surgery." The replacement system also should offer patient identity management, secure patient-physician communication and interoperability with the VA's VistA EHR and private organizations on the Nationwide Healthcare Information Network.

There are only three options, according to Brewin: Adopt VistA; call in a large, established EHR vendor like Epic Systems, GE Healthcare or Siemens; or, the most cynical scenario,  throw big piles of taxpayer cash at a well-connected contractor to adapt a commercial product to the Pentagon's unique specifications and possibly "end up paying billions of dollars for software delivered late," he writes.

In a follow-up column, Brewin reports that "two reliable sources" have indicated that Epic is "all but pre-ordained" to replace AHLTA.

He notes that the VA also is soliciting comments on plans to apply open-source technology to its own plans for updating VistA and says it would only make sense for the MHS to piggyback onto this project. "But logic is, indeed, a rare commodity inside the Beltway," Brewin writes, expressing a sentiment often shared by a certain FierceEMR editor.

This is about to get interesting.

To learn more:
- view the Tricare Management Activity Office notice at
- see this VA request for information about an open-source replacement for VistA
- read Brewin's NextGov column about MHS plans to replace AHLTA
- here's his follow-up column on possible replacements