A new military IT contract with Cerner, Leidos and Accenture will be implemented to increase the interoperability of EHRs nation-wide with thousands of civilian healthcare facilities. This contract promises to diversify healthcare outreach for the nearly 10 million active duty and retiree military members that receive care by privatized providers.
Cooperation Is Necessary
EHR vendors have traditionally been slow at making their systems interoperable with other organizations, creating challenges for an industry that relies on communication and transparency for patient data and information sharing. This new contract was designed to overcome these shortcomings and enhance the business practices of hundreds of facilities that currently avoid cooperation.
This connectivity will not be simple to implement; hundreds of EHRs platforms will be integrated, including those provided by rival bidders. Over 1,200 military healthcare sites will experience changes, including international facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dr. Johnathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, spoke to the necessity of cooperation with these private-sector companies, which provide 60 to 70 percent of healthcare for soldiers and their families.
“Part of our requirement is to position ourselves to be interoperable with the private sector, but the fact of the matter is, the private sector has to make itself interoperable as well. What we’re doing today will help advance that public preparedness.”
Looking to the Future
This commitment to interoperability of the public and private sectors comes at a critical time, as the compliance deadline for the ICD-10 transition is less than two months away. Healthcare organizations in the middle of this transition must focus their efforts on communication and cooperation with other facilities to ensure that the quality of patient care does not suffer.
This is particularly true for the military and private-sector companies that must adjust their policies to reflect the needs of civilian and public-sector partnerships.
Federal Health IT Coordinator Dr. Karen DeSalvo commended the contract, calling it “…An important step toward achieving a nationwide, interoperable health IT infrastructure.” She pledged her office’s support of the Defense Department: “To help ensure its interoperability efforts align with nationally recognized data standards and industry best practices.”
While new standards of cooperation are a step in the right direction, military healthcare facilities will need to undergo rigorous testing to confirm the viability of their updates. Interoperability is necessary progress for the health field, but requires constant improvement to maintain its efficacy.
Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization
Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.