Health IT

DOD moves forward with department-wide e-health records project

The Defense Department has taken another step in its quest to create a new, departmentwide electronic health record.

The DOD Healthcare Management System Modernization (DHMSM) program office has released a request for information to industry, looking for feedback on the minimum infrastructure requirements for supporting such a system.

Responses should cover such factors as hosting, network, device, and site characteristics, according to the solicitation, which follows an initial request in January on modernizing DOD’s health system. That request, DOD said at the time, was an attempt to get industry involved early in the project, which intends to use commercial health records products to replace its legacy systems.

The Pentagon has been looking to build a new EHR system since DOD and the Veterans Affairs Department decided last year to abandon an effort to build a joint system called iEHR. Citing the benefits of a competitive process over a joint effort, DOD said it would use commercial software to replace its AHLTA health records system, while VA said it would separately modernize its VistA system. Both departments said the modernized systems will be interoperable.

Earlier this year, a Government Accountability Office called on the departments to justify going separate ways, saying the separate projects would be more expensive. GAO recommended DOD and VA develop cost and schedule estimates and compare them to iEHR’s.

The current RFI, which seeks to establish baseline requirements for a commercial EHR system, could be one way of developing those estimates.

The program office said it will release information in a Technical Data Repository to support an eventual request for proposals. Some of the areas covered in the repository will be:

1. Site, end-user and device characteristics – including the number and locations of DOD data centers and fixed Military Treatment Facilities, characterization of temporary/deployed MTFs and user populations, a description of enterprise and local data centers, an inventory of existing medical devices, and end-user device counts and technical specifications, by category and MTF.

2. Communications infrastructure – including a primer on the as-is communications infrastructure, such as the number of, type and capacity of circuits at MTF demarcations. The primer will not include device-identifiable information such as vendors, models and addressing schemas that could impose security risks.

3. Technical performance metrics – such as metrics defining required system performance, availability and security requirements, including performance measurements such as Infrastructure as a Service capacity throughput requirements.

The request calls for submissions to be uploaded to the Space and Naval Warfare System Command’s e-Commerce Central website by April 25. 

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