Pentagon Kicks Off Procurement to Maintain Current Health Record Until 2018

Defense Department file photo

Contract will cover sustainment and incremental improvements.

The Defense Health Agency has kicked off a procurement to sustain the current Defense Department electronic health record system through the end of 2018, potentially pushing back deployment of a new military EHR until 2019.

That would be a decade after President Obama in 2009 called on the Defense and the Veterans Affairs Department to develop a joint EHR, an effort abandoned in February after estimated costs had spiraled to $28 billion.

If all options are exercised, DHA said, the planned contract could run for four years and nine months, beginning in March. It would sustain operation of the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application -- or AHLTA -- EHR; the Composite Health Care System, or CHCS, which manages clinician order entry; and the Clinical Data Repository, which contains 240 million health records.

The sustainment contract also includes provisions to incrementally upgrade AHLTA and CHCS, down to the level of code development.  The winner of the sustainment contract will also be responsible for continued operation of one of largest EHRs in the world, which serves 9.7 million active duty and retired personnel and their families. It will be deployed in six major medical centers, another 45 hospitals, 364 medical clinics, 282 dental clinics and on more than 300 Navy ships.

DHA also plans to use the sustainment contract to establish a “central hub” to manage AHLTA and CHCS at all military hospitals and clinics from a single location slated to go into operation Nov. 1, 2014. This will allow it to cut contractor personnel for site operations from 209 in 2014 to 142 by 2026, DHA said.

SAIC won the original $1 billion CHCS contract in 1988, as well as sustainment and follow-ons in the years since then. Industry sources said the upcoming contract could be worth anywhere between $250 million to $1 billion.