PwC pitches open-source electronic health records

Firm touts cost and flexibility in its VistA-based bid for an $11 billion defense health record contract.

Shutterstock image: digital record management.

One of the entrants in the military's $11 billion electronic health record procurement is proudly flying the open source flag. The group led by PricewaterhouseCoopers includes General Dynamics IT and two open source health record providers whose products are based on the open source Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) -- DSS Inc. and MedSphere.

In a sense, their bid harks back to long-standing plans between DOD and VA to cooperate on an integrated electronic heath record.

In 2011, the presumption was that the open-source Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) would be a key contributor to the joint system, which would be developed on an open source basis. Those plans were scuppered in May 2013 when DOD announced it would go its own way for a solution to replace the aging ALTA system with a commercial, off-the-shelf health record system that would be interoperable with the VA's product.

As far back as April of this year, the program executive officer leading the DOD Healthcare Management Systems Modernization (DHMSM) procurement told a Senate panel that he expected a VistA-based solution to be proposed by one or more bidders.

According to PWC's Dan Garrett, who heads the firm's Health IT practice, the VistA solution makes sense in the short term because of existing interoperability between DOD and VA, and in the long term because the open architecture of VistA gives DOD the ability to modernize at its own pace.

As VistA record providers, DSS and MedSphere are members of the Open Source Electronic Health Record Alliance (OSEHRA). They participate in a collaborative, open-source development environment that allows for health record applications or modules to run on a plug-and-play basis across member systems. Under the terms of PwC's proposed Defense Operational Readiness Health System product, Military Health System users would be able to select applications from across the OSEHRA ecosystem.

"You never get locked in," Garrett told FCW. "If they choose to get support or services from somebody other than us, they can go to any OSEHRA member and buy functionality and buy support. Like any competitive situation, it keeps everyone on their toes. It gives them an opportunity to take on any innovation that comes out from the industry. It basically gives [DOD] the right to control their own destiny that they didn't have when they evaluated whether they wanted to go right to the VA's version of VistA or not," Garrett said.

There is something of a dark cloud over VA technology lately, in part because of the way officials in Phoenix and elsewhere used under-the-table workarounds to beat requirements built into scheduling software. Garrett said the scheduling problems weren't about the software, and that improved functionality acquired by the VA will be adopted and built into the health record used by DSS and MedSphere.

'Levels of interoperability'

PwC's health practice has handled implementations for proprietary health records systems, including industry leaders Epic and Cerner -- both of which are participating in the DHMSM acquisition on teams led by IBM and Leidos, respectively.

But Garrett said the open-source solution makes sense for DOD.

"[VistA] was already funded and supported by U.S. tax dollars. It has the workflow that you need to support the federal sector side. It's not a system that was developed for billing and reverse engineered into an EHR system," Garrett said. He also touted the integrated dental and mental health components, which will be required for any winner of the DHMSM procurement.

In 2012, PwC acquired the Ray Group, a consultancy with a specialty in health IT integration, in advance of an expected procurement for an integrated EHR for both DOD and VA. That team, Garrett said, would play a big role in launching and supporting a VistA-based system.

DHMSM is not going to be a lowest price technically acceptable procurement, but Garrett said he expects his team's bid to effectively undersell rivals because of the emphasis on existing, open source software. And there are other economies that favor an open source approach, Garrett said.

"There's a lot of levels of interoperability other than just the technology and the medical record being the same. There's ease of use for physicians going back and forth between DOD and VA, and for service-members as they transition from DOD to VA," he said.

There have been a few short extensions of the DHMSM in recent weeks, over minor technical questions according to contracting documents. Final proposals from vendors are due Oct. 31.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.