Litton/PRC tapped for med records pact

The Defense Department's Health Affairs branch intends to award Litton/PRC Inc. a task order potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a framework for the electronic sharing of patient records that may set the national standard for public and private health care facilities, FCW has learned.

The Health Affairs branch is expected to award Litton/PRC a contract for the Government Computer-based Patient Record (G-CPR), an electronic records framework designed to speed and simplify DOD's sharing of patient information with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which serves as many as 70 million veterans and their dependents.

The blueprint for sharing medical records that Litton/PRC would craft under G-CPR could become the de facto national standard because the number of patients served through DOD and the VA is so large. Partners in G-CPR include the Department of Health and Human Services' Indian Health Service, which covers 1.4 million American Indians nationwide, and Louisiana State University, which, through its medical center system, offers services to the entire state population— 4.3 million people. LSU chose to join the project because the system regularly treats veterans and reservists and has a constant need to share medical information with the federal government.

Joyce Ellis, contracting officer for the project, confirmed that Litton/PRC had been chosen to get the task order. But she said she did not know when an award would be announced and would not estimate the amount of the task order.

Ellis said that on Aug. 19, DOD sent a letter to the competing vendors explaining that DOD reviewed vendors'

G-CPR plans, that DOD had determined Litton/PRC's proposal was the best in terms of its technical proposal and that DOD intended to award the task order to Litton/PRC.

Vendors eligible to compete for the task order were six companies that had been awarded one lot of the $4 billion Defense Medical Information System/Systems Integration, Design, Development, Operations and Maintenance Services II contract. Lot III was awarded to American Management Systems Inc., Computer Sciences Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp., IBM Corp., BDM International Inc., Science Applications International Corp. and Litton/PRC. The lot carries an estimated value of $2.5 billion and covers systems design, development, operations and maintenance. G-CPR is the centerpiece of Lot III.

The ability to share medical information is key to the treatment of veterans and soldiers, DOD and VA officials said. Many of the veterans treated by the VA have DOD medical records from active duty, and some of DOD's current patients have been treated at VA medical centers. Faster and easier sharing of medical records should result in improved health care, DOD and VA officials said.

"We can't really share patients because we can't share data," said Air Force Col. Lynn Ray, who is working on the G-CPR project for DOD. "The real benefit of [a G-CPR] is you have continuity of care."

Litton/PRC and federal officials declined to discuss what the company's technical G-CPR proposal includes because the task award has not been finalized. But Ray Bednarsky, executive director of health care programs at Litton/PRC, said developing the proposal was a creative challenge because G-CPR provided vendors with objectives— not specifications— and asked them to provide possible solutions.

Dr. Robert Kolodner, associate chief information officer at the VA, said Litton/PRC will play a role similar to that of a utility company: provide a framework and standards for sharing information.

"G-CPR is not another system per se," he said. "It's a way of moving things around."

G-CPR partners expect that the electronic record format developed will use World Wide Web-based technology.

Some vendors complain that DOD did not winnow out task-order contenders through a "down-select" process and that DOD officials have refused to offer vendors a formal debriefing on how they made their decision.

Ellis said federal acquisition regulations do not require DOD to go through the down-select process because the award is a task order on a multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. She also said DOD will offer losing vendors debriefings as a "courtesy."

"We told them from the beginning that there was not going to be a down-select," Kolodner said.

Other vendors on losing teams do not plan to spend too much time dwelling on the award.

"We bid on that. We didn't get it, and we'll move on to the next one," CSC spokesman John Gulick said.

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