Why DoD EHR modernization will fail

As the U.S. Department of Defense zeroes in on determining which bidding group will be awarded the coveted contract to modernize its electronic health record system, Loren Thompson, COO at the nonprofit Lexington Institute, says the effort is doomed to fail.

As evidence, he uses the words that Christopher A. Miller, the program executive overseeing the project, used in testimony before the Senate's defense appropriations subcommittee.

In prepared remarks, Miller said the Defense Department proposes to buy an "off-the-shelf" commercial product already in use by the healthcare profession and adapt it to military needs. This will be "state-of-the-market" commercial technology, Thompson writes.

The article echoes one he wrote for Forbes, in which he explained: "[I]t is seeking to acquire an electronic health record system that already exists in an industry noted for its antiquated approach to the movement of information."

And despite claims that the project will avoid vendor lock-in, the project manager told Politico he envisions the contract as "an extensive prenup and no divorce," Thompson writes.

The program's business model resembles pursuing a proprietary enterprise software system like many major hospitals have installed. Yet the dissatisfaction with such systems in the industry is well-documented.

"Relying on technology that predates the Internet to 'modernize' health records is a contradiction in terms," Thompson says.

The modernization contract, estimated to be worth $11 billion, is expected to be awarded in June.

The remaining groups in the bidding include Computer Sciences Corp., which is partnering with HP and EHR developer Allscripts; EHR vendor Cerner, joined by Leidos, Accenture Federal, and Intermountain Healthcare; and IBM and Epic, a team that Politico calls a front-runner.

To learn more:
- read Thompson's article
- find the Politico story