VA seeks contractor to support EHR upgrade process

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Department is seeking a contractor to support its Health Systems Informatics division in upgrading its electronic health record system, dubbed VistA Evolution.

In a notice published this week, the agency seeks workgroup coordinators to provide "program management, resource management, Electronic Health Record and subject matter expertise to help strengthen and improve [the Office of Informatics and Analytics'] ability to support VA's joint role with the Department of Defense in designing and creating an interoperable Electronic Health Record."

Among the tasks will be updating the VistA Web and other EHR viewers. The work involves developing methods for creating and storing coded data from the point of care, translating terms, indexing searches and integrating terminology across various domains.

The notice calls for a one-year base period and two optional years. In the first year, the contractor will support VA leads in the requirements-gathering process, including assuming responsibility for managing the project schedule, dashboards and risk-management activities.

The contractor also will work with the Interagency Program Office, set up to coordinate the process for creating seamless health data-sharing between the VA and DoD.

It's requiring a quick response from vendors, with replies due by Feb. 6.

DoD, after ditching plans last February to develop a joint EHR project from scratch with VA, has been looking at products from commercial vendors and the VA focused on upgrading its existing system.

In November, the VA awarded a $162.5 million contract to ASM Research to improve the user experience with VistA. That price was more than three times as much as other bids. That contract calls for developing a new graphical user interface that will display a wide range of patient information.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House, fearing the two departments will spend years and billions of dollars while losing sight of the main goal of interoperability included funding restrictions in the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act.

The bill prevents the VA from spending more than 25 percent of the VistA Evolution budget until it explains to Congress how it will adhere to data standards set up for the integrated EHR. The lawmakers also want updates on testing to ensure compatibility with the DoD systems.

To learn more:
- find the notice