DoD raises budget on Leidos contract for Cerner EHR project by $1.2 billion

The U.S. Department of Defense will increase its budget for its Cerner electronic health record modernization contract with Leidos by about $1.2 billion, according to a justification and approval document posted late Tuesday.

According to the document, the additional funds will support the added services and capabilities necessary to maintain a standard EHR between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Coast Guard.

In April, the Coast Guard partnered with DoD to jointly roll out the same Cerner EHR. The VA contracted with Cerner in June with the same goal of creating a unified platform.

DoD signed its $4.3 billion contract with Leidos in 2015 for a Cerner EHR system. MHS Genesis is currently in a planned assessment stage but has faced some serious challenges that have been criticized heavily by Congress.

The agency also still is working through the issues brought to light by an Initial Operational Test and Evaluation in March that found the platform was “operationally unsuitable.”

But on Tuesday, Stacy Cummings, program executive officer for Defense Healthcare Management Systems, told the Defense Health Information Technology Symposium in Orlando that the DoD has found “measurable success” in its workflow adoptions and other improvement efforts.

The final test report will come later in the year, with some results expected by the fall, said Cummings. DoD will continue to work with the test communities to gain real-time feedback and to “make sure we’re being as responsive as possible.”

Cummings also announced the next wave MHS Genesis sites, which include: Naval Air Station Lemoore, Travis Air Force Base and Army Medical Health Clinic Presidio of Monterey in California, as well as Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

As the three agencies continue to push through the setbacks to create a single, integrated EHR, the DoD “needs to acquire the same core capabilities as the VA is acquiring to ensure consistency among the agencies,” according to the budget document.

By raising the budget cap on the project, the DoD will also be able to support the incorporation of the Coast Guard into the existing MHS Genesis project. But it will also support the “extended capabilities that were not available at the time of the original contract and/or were not proposed against the government’s identified requirements.”

The standard platform, according to the document, will include common clinical applications, interfaces and a shared infrastructure that “when configured, results in a much greater commonality in practical workflows, roles, order sets, plans and reports, as well as the training materials to support them.”

Some of these items were not covered by the original contract. Officials said the funds also will cover the technical services and capabilities required to support the shared environments.

On Tuesday, Vice Admiral Raquel Bono told the Orlando audience that DoD continues to progress with the project.

“We need to continue with our forward momentum,” said Bono. “While acknowledging some areas we have needed to make adjustments, we’re progressing forward… We have a lot to share with the broader healthcare community and we are helping to raise the bar in the security environment.”

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