Veterans Affairs

Judge dismisses lawsuit against VA for sole source EHR

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A federal judge dismissed a bid by health technology firm CliniComp to overturn a decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to award a major electronic health record modernization project on a sole-source basis.

Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby of the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., threw out the case in an Oct. 18 decision that remains under seal. A publicly available document indicates that the case was tossed "for lack of jurisdiction."

The case was filed in August.. San Diego-based CliniComp alleged that a move by VA Secretary David Shulkin to select Cerner as its next-generation electronic health record provider was "arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion."

Shulkin picked Cerner to replace VA's aging homegrown Vista health record system, largely because the Department of Defense had opted for the same system in a separate procurement.

"Continuing to modernize VistA or selecting a different commercial EHR other than the DoD EHR system, with a single shared record, will result in VA having to develop and maintain an increasingly complex technical architecture without providing seamless care," Shulkin wrote in a Determination and Findings document explaining the decision to make the award to Cerner on a sole-source basis.

Lawyers for the VA argued that CliniComp is a relatively recent entrant to the electronic health records market, and is "unable to supply a comprehensive enterprise-wide electronic health record system to the VA."

No contract has been awarded, but former VA tech officials have estimated that the agency may have to spend as much as $16 billion to replace Vista and install a new system.

CliniComp says it isn't done fighting.

"We respectfully disagree with the judge's decision to not rule on the merits of the case. We will appeal this decision, because the health of millions of veterans and billions of taxpayer dollars is at stake," company CEO Chris Haudenschild said in an emailed statement. "CliniComp simply wants the chance to prove that it can do the job cheaper, faster, and better."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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