VA cancels critical contract for electronic health record


The Veterans Affairs Department has canceled a $102.6 million contract to manage a critical portion of its future integrated electronic health record (iEHR) system with the Defense Department.

The contract was awarded on Jan. 13 to Fairfax, Va.-based ASM Research Inc. to manage a portion of the iEHR, called the enterprise service bus, which will allow various components of the future system to communicate with each other and with VA and DoD health information stored in data centers. The contract was awarded under VA’s $12 billion Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology, or T4, program.

VA Spokeswoman Jo Schuda confirmed that the contract was canceled on Feb. 28 but did not provide further details about what prompted the decision. It also isn’t clear how this will impact development of the new system.

In an interview with Federal Times this month, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker said the enterprise service bus is “the heart of the iEHR.” “Everything will talk to it or through it.”

Baker said VA and DoD are still finalizing an estimated four- to five-year development plan for the iEHR. Development of the iEHR is tied to the larger Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record that will enable better sharing of veterans’ health and benefits data, but the iEHR is a separate program that requires its own oversight, Baker said.


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  1. “Let the word go forth from this time and place to the entire nation that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing” John F. Kennedy

    January 20th 19President John F. Kennedy delivered this speech, “Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs,” on May 25, 1961 before a joint session of Congress. In this speech, JFK stated that the United States should set as a goal the “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by the end of the decade.

    Apollo landed on the moon 11 July 20, 1969
    Returned to Earth on July 24 1969

    These words could apply to this generation as well. Our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters
    friends and neighbors returning from Iraq, and Afghanastan. This new generation of Americans have grown up amid the explosion of electronic communications and they are comfortable using computers and the rapid communications that modern technology provides. This new generation texts and tweets and twitters. This generation is accustomed to and has an expectation of rapid and accurate data transmission.

    Recognizing the need for public and private sector collaboration to achieve a national interoperable health IT infrastructure, the President issued an executive order in April 2004 that called for widespread adoption of interoperable electronic health records by 2014.10

    10Executive Order 13335, Incentives for the Use of Health Information Technology and Establishing the Position of the National Health Information Technology Coordinator (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 27, 2004).

    It would appear that it is easier to send a man safely to the moon and return him safely to the earth than it is to get these two great bureaucracies VA and DOD to safely, reliably and while preserving confidentiality communicate electronically.

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