Veterans Affairs lines up contractors for landmark health records IT project

By David Bicknell

A US IT project is being developed to provide  US military veterans with instant electronic access to their health and benefits information and other services.

According to Federal Times, the Veterans Affairs Department is now working with companies it already has on a $12 billion information technology contract to help it develop the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Health Record (VLER)

Last July, Veterans Affairs awarded 14 contractors, including CACI, Harris and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services, a place on the departments Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology( T4) programme. The 15th and final spot is reported to have gone to SAIC.

Under the “five-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity task-order contracts”, vendors will provide program management and strategy planning, systems and software engineering, and other support.

The T4 contract has already been the subject of multiple bid protests – presumably because it appears so lucrative – including one filed last year Standard Communications in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

According to Federal Times, “nearly 39,000 US military veterans in 12 regions across the country — including Indianapolis, Richmond, and San Diego — have signed up to have their health information shared electronically among the Veterans Affairs, the US Department of Defence (DoD), and private health care providers.

“When participating veterans receive care, their physicians can request their laboratory results and other health data using the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN), a project led by the Health and Human Services Department to provide a secure, standards-based method of sharing health information over the Internet. However, veterans must first agree to have their health information shared.”

The next project milestone for VLER will be this summer when Veterans Affairs and DoD decide how to expand health information exchange pilots nationwide.

Will the project succeed? It’s too early to say, although there are already some suggestions that the project has too many mouths to feed. One comment on the story so far argues that (the project) “has way too many contractors and staff involved. As we say, there are too many chiefs and not enough workers. It’s my bet that we will be talking about the 100 million dollar failure of the EMR at the expense of the US Taxpayers with in the year. They aren’t even getting the right type of people involved in the process. This is mainly a group of systems geeks and executives. They are leaving out the Health Information Management Professionals and the Medical providers…. it’s a boon doogle from the start, but at least the contractors are making money.”


VA announces expansion of Virtual Life Electronic Record

10 Lessons Learned from Linking VLER to private health orgs

Veterans Affairs CIO on VLER progress

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