Defense and VA eye commercial system for managing medical tests


Health officials consider a turnkey, vendor operated system for ordering lab work and distributing results.

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments have decided to focus on commercial products for a system to track laboratory work such as blood tests within their integrated electronic health record.

In a request for information issued Tuesday, the Military Health System asked potential vendors to provide information on developing a lab information capability that includes commercial off-the-shelf products.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Roger Baker, the department’s chief information officer, have backed using open source software for the iEHR, which will cost $4 billion to develop and is slated for deployment in 2017. On June 5, VA issued an RFI for an iEHR pharmacy system based on commercial products.

MHS said it would prefer to host the lab system in a vendor data center and government data centers would be its second choice. A draft blueprint for the iEHR that Nextgov obtained said the future health record data infrastructure will end up as a hybrid of public and private data centers.

The pharmacy and lab systems are the first clinical applications that will be incorporated into an early version of the iEHR planned for deployment at Defense and VA hospitals in San Antonio and Norfolk, Va., in 2014.

MHS said it is interested in turnkey system from a vendor that provides all management support, operations and maintenance, system security, and network connection and application management support.

The joint laboratory system will manage lab test orders -- primarily for blood tests -- specimen collection, and processing and reporting of results. It also will incorporate an anatomic pathology system to handle information from biopsy tests and electron microscopes.

The iEHR lab system should be able to manage complex testing work flows; promptly format and deliver laboratory results to clinicians; manage storage, tracking and distribution of specimens; and support automated instrumentation, the RFI said. Lab results must flow into individual patient records. These records must include every test, potential diagnosis, type of specimen collected and time the specimen was collected.

Interested vendors should reply to the RFI by July 12.

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