Jeff Rowe, Editor, Future Care

Jeff Rowe is the editor of Future Care and a veteran healthcare journalist and blogger who has reported extensively on initiatives to improve the healthcare system at the local, regional and national level.

US defense department goes live with new EHR system

February 9, 2017 AT 9:21 PM

It took them four years to get it up and running, but the Department of Defense has officially gone live with an upgraded EHR system at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington.

The system, called MHS Genesis, uses the Cerner commercial health record system, and while technical issues forced the Pentagon to delay the rollout of the new system that was originally scheduled for December, officials told FCW that the new system is now running as expected.

“ I can report first hand from the command center that everything is going as expected,” said Stacy Cummings, the program executive officer for Defense Healthcare Management Systems, which led the two-year procurement of the electronic health record. “Providers at Fairchild are treating patients while the government and contractor team are quickly implementing fixes to issues as they are identified.”

The vendor group responsible for the installation and upkeep, won a $4.3 billion contract to consolidate and modernize the military's electronic health record systems in July 2015, is led by tech integrator Leidos. According to officials, the rollout has taken so long in part because of the complexity of integrating and sharing data with multiple legacy systems used across the military. Leidos also handles the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, the principal health records system used by the Defense Department.

According to FierceHealthIT, during a House committee hearing this week, officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs highlighted the DoD’s off-the-shelf approach to EHRs as a model for the agency moving forward. Officials said the department plans to look for a commercial solution following years of failed attempts to modernize legacy systems.

During the hearing, David Powner, director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), told lawmakers they should manage the VA’s process “with a heavy hand” given the agency’s past failures.

The GAO has also said full interoperability between the VA and the DoD is "years away."