VA Awards ASM Research $162M Contract To Improve EHR System

Last week, ASM Research, an Accenture Federal Services Company, announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs had awarded it a three-year, $162 million contract to improve the VA's existing VistA electronic health record system, Healthcare IT News reports (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 7/4).

Background on EHR Efforts

In February 2013, DOD and Department of Veterans Affairs officials announced plans to halt a joint integrated EHR, or iEHR, system and instead focus on making their current EHR systems more interoperable.

The iEHR project aimed to allow every service member to maintain a single EHR throughout his or her career and lifetime.

In January, DOD announced that it would keep its current EHR system through the end of 2018.

The Defense Health Agency said it planned to launch a new EHR in phases from 2016 to 2019. DHA said it would test the system in 2016 at a site in Fort Lewis, Wash., with plans to fully deploy it by 2019 (iHealthBeat, 4/29).

Since January, DOD has released three formal draft requests for proposals.

The draft RFPs indicate that the department plans to rely on off-the-shelf EHR technology and industry standards (iHealthBeat, 6/25).

In March, former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told lawmakers that VA plans to submit an advanced version of its EHR system as part of the competitive bidding process to replace DOD's current system (iHealthBeat, 4/29).

Since then, several health IT companies have submitted bids for the DOD contract. For example, in June:

  • Computer Sciences Corp., a defense contractor and systems integrator, announced that it would partner with computer services firm Hewlett Packard and EHR developer Allscripts to compete for the contract;
  • IBM and EHR vendor Epic announced that they intend to offer a joint bid for DOD's EHR contract; (iHealthBeat, 6/25); and
  • Cerner announced a partnership with government contractors Leidos and Accenture Federal Services to bid for the contract (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 6/26).

VA Contract Details

According to an ASM Research release, the company's work aims to increase interoperability of systems and health care records and "meet the highest security standards."

During its three-year contract ASM Research will:

  • Deliver technical architecture, clinical analysis, software development, and engineering management and training to the agency;
  • Improve the sharing of data across the VA;
  • Modernize workflow and information access; and
  • Update VistA's patient records system (ASM Research release, 7/2).

Specifically, the contract calls for:

  • EHR functions to be broken down into modular components;
  • Enhanced security protections; and
  • The implementation of portals to give secure, role-based access to health care providers and researchers (Goedert, Health Data Management, 7/3).

Jim Trafficant, president of ASM, said that the contract specifically focuses on clinical applications, and does not include work to fix VA's patient appointment scheduling system, which was cited in a recent audit as being "antiquated" and "problematic" (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 7/3).  

Source: iHealthBeat, Monday, July 7, 2014

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