Coast Guard joins Defense Department’s Cerner rollout

The Coast Guard will implement Cerner, moving on from a pen-and-paper approach to medical records. (U.S. Coast Guard)

After a failed attempt to integrate Epic as its EHR, the Coast Guard is planning to use Cerner’s MHS Genesis system by joining an existing $4.3 billion contract with the Department of Defense.

A notice of intent issued by the Defense Healthcare Management Systems program office on Monday indicated the Coast Guard would be added to the DOD’s contract with Leidos, which is spearheading the DOD implementation. The 10-year contract includes a $4.3 billion limit, but the notice indicated “the total ordering ceiling will be updated to accommodate the additional services and capabilities.”

“The USCG's analysis indicated that all of its requirements would be satisfied by the MHS Genesis solution and that it would achieve the same critical benefits of a single standard solution as DOD and VA; most notably to ensure that every military beneficiary and retiree has access to a single, unified electronic health record,” the notice stated.

On a call with reporters, officials declined to provide a timeline for the rollout but said it would be much faster than the DOD’s rollout since the Coast Guard is far smaller.

“This is the best way forward, and everybody's looking forward to it,” Coast Guard Director of Acquisition Programs and PEO Rear Adm. Michael Johnston said on a press call, according to FCW.

RELATED: Lawmaker presses Coast Guard officials to adopt Cerner EHR to align with VA, DOD

The decision comes months after lawmakers grilled Coast Guard officials during a House subcommittee hearing, urging the military agency to align itself with DOD.

That same month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) outlined the Coast Guard's poor management and oversight that led to a failed attempt to integrate Epic’s platform. That contract was canceled in 2015, and the Coast Guard has been using a “predominantly paper process” ever since.

David Powner, director of information technology management issues for GAO, said the Coast Guard often mails patient records to a new facility or gives it to the patient in a “large sealed envelope.” 

Meanwhile, Cerner’s contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs is still on hold and its timeline is in limbo following the departure of David Shulkin, who was a chief proponent of replacing VistA with Cerner.