GSA's Schedule 70 drills in on health IT

As federal health care agencies' spending on IT continues to rise, GSA gives health IT a dedicated Special Item Number on its largest, most-used contract.

Shutterstock image: medical professional interacting with a handheld, tablet computer.

The General Services Administration has made it easier to find health IT services and solutions on its huge Schedule 70 contract by creating a dedicated ordering number for such purchases.

Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA's Office of Integrated Technology Services, unveiled the Health IT Services Special Item Number (SIN 132-56) in a July 20 blog post. According to GSA, Schedule 70 is the largest, most widely used acquisition vehicle in the federal government.

David said the motivation for the new Schedule 70 SIN is an annual growth rate of 7.4 percent in the health IT services sector and strong agency demand for those services and solutions.

A new study by Govini released the same day as Davie's announcement put a finer point on the dramatic increases in federal spending on health IT. The study states that such spending -- by agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs and Defense Health Agency (DHA) -- grew by 27 percent annually, from nearly $2 billion in fiscal 2011 to $6.5 billion in fiscal 2015, despite sequestration-driven budget constraints.

According to Govini, HHS led the way, issuing almost $13 billion in prime contracts during that five-year period. The increase was driven by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which accounted for 50 percent of HHS' health IT spending during that time.

Arun Sankaran, the Govini managing director who put together the organization's health IT study, said GSA's health IT SIN announcement "is a natural evolution" for the agency. He added that the move links health IT technology to the agency's category management efforts, which seek to align products to facilitate more efficient tracking and purchasing by its agency customers.

"Health agencies...are already using Schedule 70 quite a bit," Sankaran said, adding that DHA has committed to using GSA's Alliant contract as well.

He said that from fiscal 2011 to 2015, HHS spent $1.8 billion on IT services through Schedule 70. The VA spent $1.6 billion, and DHA spent $154 million.

With the growth in health IT, Davie wrote, "it is not a surprise that GSA's IT Schedule 70 is seeing increased attention and interest in its health IT services solutions."

She added that "GSA's growing subject-matter expertise in the health IT market, coupled with our existing online procurement tools, will allow us to provide a best-in-class solution for health IT market research, acquisition planning and procurement."

Davie said the health IT SIN spans a variety of technologies and capabilities, including mobile and telehealth technology, e-prescribing, medical sensors, remote monitoring devices and other assistive technologies.

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