VA, DOD adopt single logistics system for healthcare supply chain

Veterans affairs sign
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense are adopting a single healthcare logistics IT system for acquiring medical and surgical supplies. (JeffOnWire CC BY 2.0)

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is collaborating with the Department of Defense (DOD) to adopt a single healthcare logistics IT system for acquiring medical and surgical supplies. The DOD system will replace the VA's existing logistics and supply chain IT infrastructure.

Through a strategic partnership announced Monday with the DOD's Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the VA will adopt the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support (DMLSS) with the aim of improving productivity and efficiency, the agencies said.

The partnership provides VA access to DLA's worldwide procurement system to acquire medical and surgical items, cleaning supplies and equipment, construction materials and equipment and other items needed to support veterans, the agencies said in a press release. 

“The adoption of a single health care logistics system by VA and DOD highlights the commitment of both organizations to improve military and Veteran health care by increasing the access and quality of care they receive,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “This is a huge step forward in our efforts to transform VA into a modern, high-performing organization by simplifying operations and leveraging DOD’s supply chain system to support our Veterans."

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The agreement combines resources from VA and DOD to create a centralized ordering system for VA, reducing risk, waste, fraud and abuse in purchasing medical equipment and supplies, the agencies said.

The VA is in the process of three enterprisewide modernization efforts to replace VA's legacy IT infrastructure—the DMLSS, the Cerner electronic health record rollout and a new financial management system.

During a House subcommittee hearing on military construction and veterans affairs in February, Wilkie testified the VA’s current supply chain and logistics system faces numerous challenges and is not equipped to address the complexity of decision-making and integration required across functions such as acquisition, logistics and construction.

"The DMLSS solution will ensure that the right products are delivered to the right places at the right time, while providing the best value to the government and taxpayer," Wilkie said.

The VA's 2020 proposed budget includes $36.8 million for the supply chain modernization effort and $184.9 million to replace its aging financial system infrastructure.

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The VA is piloting the DMLSS IT system at a VA site, the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, and plans a full rollout of the system at that site in October.

In a DOD press release, Steve Bollendorf, Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) division chief, said the federal healthcare center (FHCC) will benefit from using the program through faster access to a much broader catalog of medical supplies.

“The FHCC will get faster access to a much broader catalog of medical supplies because Medical’s MSPV provides for just-in-time, next day delivery,” Bollendorf said. “Because of the MSPV services, the FHCC can carry little to no stock in their own warehouse to support their facilities.”