Allscripts' Dean Mericka: How our EHR partnership benefits the DoD

By Marla Durben Hirsch

Dean Mericka, senior vice president, sales, federal sector and south region for Allscripts in the District of Columbia, believes that one of the keys to winning the bid for the U.S. Department of Defense's $11 billion electronic health record contract--set to be awarded in June--will be freedom. To that end, he says, Allscripts' collaboration with Computer Sciences Corp. and HP just might be the perfect fit.

In an interview with FierceEMR, Mericka, who is heavily involved in the bidding process, shares why that--and the group's partnerships with New York Presbyterian Hospital, Johns Hopkins and the University of Pittsbrugh Medical Center--are key to modernizing the Pentagon's EHR.

FierceEMR:  What makes your bid unique, worthy of the DoD contract?

Mericka:  We have a unique ability to manage patients across multiple caregivers and coordinate care with the Department of Defense and its military partners, such as managed care plans. The government was very clear that it wanted something open and interoperable, but also freedom. We run on open Microsoft architecture, which gives the government some freedom. They don't have to come to us for something unique to the military.

FierceEMR:  What does each partner bring to the table?

Mericka: Computer Sciences Corp. is the prime contractor. It chose Allscripts and the other partners. HP brings core competency with enterprise architecture and its help desk. It currently runs DoD's help desk and is an expert in providing support. HP also runs The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), the index that provides a unique patient identifier to each patient in the military, so you maintain a single patient identity as the patient moves through EHRs and care settings. Microsoft provides cloud services and infrastructure.

We're also partners with New York Presbyterian, Johns Hopkins and University Pittsburgh Medical Center--three clinical partners. They offer talent plus their clinical protocols and intellectual property, their clinical best practices and specialized content. The University of Pittsburgh is the largest private health information exchange in the country. It's high level interoperability.

FierceEMR:  How would your team improve data sharing with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs EHR system?

Mericka:  The VA uses the National Health Information Network known as Healtheway. There are 80 institutions in Healtheway, so today we can share data with the VA. It's a great start and provides a platform but it's not the best way. Our plan is for true application level interoperability to make it seamless between the two systems. 

FierceEMR:  Would this contract have any broader implications for health IT?  

Mericka: The DoD is unique because of its disconnected enforcement. This contract has applicability to a broader market, like first responders, and in dealing with the acuity of patients, such as those with traumatic brain injury. The military also brings the opportunity for the industry to advance the notion of accountable care--that's real time population health. It's also dealing with the ever increasing costs of healthcare.

FierceEMR: What do you envision in the future of health IT?

Mericka: I see personalized precision medicine. Our partners are bringing some advanced technology, such as handheld tools. And look at the National Institutes of Health, which is a customer. It has the ability to risk adjust care treatments and adopt precise prescriptions. No one else can do that.

The military has also asked for help with telemedicine and the ability to have real patient engagement virtually. We're trying to keep patients out of the hospital.

Editor's Note: This interview has been condensed for clarity and content.

Allscripts' Dean Mericka: How our EHR partnership benefits the DoD