DOD taps 7 vendors for integration effort

The Defense Department last week awarded contracts to seven vendors for a $2.5 billion program to build the next-generation military medical information system.

The program— the Defense Medical Information System/Systems Integration, Design, Development, Operations and Maintenance Services (D/SIDDOMS) II— will integrate and support medical information systems at more than 100 hospitals and clinics and more than 500 medical centers.

The five-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts make up Lot III of the D/SIDDOMS II program and were awarded to American Management Systems Inc. (AMS) , BDM International Inc., Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) , Electronic Data Systems Corp., IBM Corp., Litton/PRC Inc. and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) .

Under Lot III, the contractors will supply systems and services to replace or enhance aging DOD medical information management systems such as DOD medical logistics systems; the Composite Health Care System II, which DOD uses to share patient data among many of its medical centers; and the Corporate Executive Information System, a management-level system that DOD Health Affairs leaders use for making business decisions and analyses.

DOD officials said D/SIDDOMS II will integrate these systems so that patient records and related information can be shared easily across great distances, giving military health care providers easy access to information that will improve treatment, improve quality and control costs, DOD officials said. "The information infrastructure is just critical for us making good business decisions," said Christine Thompson, the D/SIDDOMS II contracting officer.

Capt. (select) Richard Bakalar, head of telemedicine at the National Navy Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., said by sharing patient records and other information electronically, D/SIDDOMS II "will make it a lot easier for providers to provide continuity of care." He said the prospect of computer-based patient records is in line with Navy Surgeon General Howard Koenig's philosophy of "moving information, not people."

"We're going to bring the patient data to the doctor rather than bring the patient to the doctor," Bakalar said. "We can level our workload among locations rather than having specialists at every location."

Vendors will take task orders from all levels of the DOD Health Affairs branch, including temporary field hospitals, management at DOD Health Affairs regions and leaders at DOD Health Affairs headquarters, said Elizabeth Smith, director of health care business development for EDS.

DOD also expects Lot III to be the procurement vehicle for the first phase of a joint DOD/Department of Veterans Affairs information-sharing project called the Government Computer-based Patient Record. G-CPR, which also includes the Indian Health Service and Louisiana State University, is generally considered the beginning of a national standard for electronic patient records.

Vendors for Lot II, a $500 million contract expected to be awarded this year, will act as program managers to coordinate the integration of the systems provided by the Lot III contractors. Vendors for Lot I, also $500 million and scheduled for award this year, will develop requirements and data standards for the systems across DOD Health Affairs, Smith said. Lot IV, worth $500 million, covers specialized products and services and is set aside for small businesses.

Lot III contractors include every vendor that submitted a bid, Thompson said. Having so many contractors will allow officials at military medical facilities to choose the integrator that best suits their needs, she added.

But some vendors and observers are wondering why it took DOD nearly a year to make the award if all bidders were going to get a contract. "It does seem as if it took longer than it should have if everybody won," an industry source said.

David Brooks, senior vice president at SAIC, said although the time between proposal and award was not as swift as it could have been, DOD officials were taking their time to make sure proposals were sound. But Brooks also said he was "slightly surprised that every single proposer was given an award."

AMS, EDS, Litton/PRC and SAIC were contractors on the original D/SIDDOMS services vehicle.

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