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Defense Health Agency Wants More Money for IT Operations in 2015

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Defense Health Agency requested a budget of $1.6 billion to support operations and maintenance of health information management systems in 2015, 7 percent more than its $1.5 billion 2014 operations budget. 

DHA, which replaced the TRICARE Management Activity last October, also requested $91.3 million in a new research and development budget line for the Defense Healthcare Management Systems Modernization project to develop a new electronic health record by 2017. The Veterans Affairs Department requested $269 million in 2015 to develop its next-generation EHR.

The DHA research budget request includes $68.3 million for work on an integrated EHR with the VA, slightly more than three times 2014 funding of $19.9 million. The integrated system was all but abandoned in Feb. 2013 by both departments when costs spiraled to $28 billion. The two departments now plan to achieve interoperability through the exchange of standard clinical health data.

The Pentagon told Congress last July  it expects $672 million in savings over the next six years through consolidation of all IT services for 230,000 Army, Navy and Air Force clinical personnel who work in in 59 hospitals and over 600 medical and dental clinics that serve a total of 9.6 million patients.

At an industry briefing last month DHA officials said they plan to develop an integrated information technology environment for the entire Military Health System with standardized infrastructure and applications down to the desktop by next October.

This infrastructure will also include standardized local and wide area networks coupled with a suite of IT security tools and adoption of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s enterprise email system. DHA, according to the industry day briefing, will also provide centralized desktop and mobile device management and helps desk support to all MHS users, along with Web application development and hosting.

A Pentagon spokesman said a more detailed DHA budget will be released next Tuesday, March 11.

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