HP loses its Military Health System electronic records contract

GSA in December terminated IT improvements planned as 'fundamental restructuring' of health records system.

The General Services Administration terminated a contract with HP Enterprise Services that was once touted as a "fundamental restructuring" of the Defense Department's major electronic health record system, a source in the Military Health System confirmed to Nextgov.

GSA on May 26, 2010, had awarded HP Enterprise Services a contract to make improvements to the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, known as AHLTA, and to its underlying Composite Health Care System. A task order on the company's GSA Allliant umbrella information technology contract scheduled work on improving electronic health records for the military to run through this May, but it was halted on Dec. 20, a MHS spokesman said on Tuesday.

He declined to provide reasons for ending HP's role in the project, known as the AHLTA and CHCS Critical Fixes and Support contract, which industry sources valued at $22 million. The MHS spokesman said, "We cannot discuss details beyond this as we are in contract termination negotiations."

GSA did not return Nextgov calls, and HP Enterprise Services acknowledged the termination, but declined to shed light on the reasons.

The Defense Department has spent $2 billion during the past 13 years developing AHLTA, according to an October 2010 Government Accountability Office report. But GAO said, "Users continued to experience significant problems with the performance (speed, usability and availability) of the portions of the system that have been deployed.

GAO said MHS "has initiated efforts to improve system performance and enhance functionality and plans to continue its efforts to stabilize the AHLTA system through 2015, as a 'bridge' to the new electronic health record system it intends to acquire."

Last January, in a presentation at the annual MHS conference, Army Lt. Col. William Geesey, commander of the Army's Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care, joined with Army Col. Claude Hines, at the time program manager for the Defense Health Information Management System, to promote the AHLTA-CHCS Critical Fixes contract as the path toward a new system architecture to improve speed and reliability for end users.

Geesey and Hines said the contract would simplify AHLTA to improve its maintenance and provide a framework to better share data both inside and outside MHS.

In an internal newsletter this June, officials at the Defense Health Information Management System said the contract also would be used to pilot new health record capabilities at the North Chicago Federal Health Care Center, a hospital jointly managed by MHS and the Veterans Affairs Department .

A federal source who declined to be identified said the cancellation of the HP Enterprise Services contract has delayed development of fixes to AHLTA by between a year and 18 months, the time it took to run the procurement and the time HP Enterprise Services worked on it.

The MHS spokesman said GSA and MHS are reviewing options for follow-on to the HP Enterprise Services contracts.