Tips for Selling into the DOD Health IT Market

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

I recently wrote an article for Washington Technology on reforms in military
health IT and I thought I’d share some highlights with you. In case you didn’t know, the Department of Defense (DOD) consolidated much of its health IT responsibilities into the Defense Health Agency (DHA); which celebrated its first birthday on October 1st. My article explores several key opportunities stemming from this major overhaul of DOD’s outdated military health system.

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VA Seeking Analytics Tools to Enhance Veteran Care

Tomas OKeefe_65x85by Tomas O’Keefe, Senior Analyst

Some recent developments suggest that the Department of Veterans Affairs is starting to get organized and introducing more advanced analytics capabilities into its environment.

One of the new tools being introduced into the VA environment is a program called Joint Legacy Viewer, nicknamed Janus. Janus is going to give VA employees a significantly better ability to view medical information from the Defense Health Agency in a single screen. Additional capability will be added to the program to provide the ability for clinicians to order medication and other necessities based on the information on the screen. As more and more medical information is available via Janus, the VA will turn towards analytics to predict care for particular populations of veterans.

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Biggest Health IT Opportunities Ever – Coming Soon

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

Last week more than 1,400 government officials and industry representatives from the health IT community met in Orlando for the Defense Health IT Symposium.  This conference allowed senior government stakeholders to give updates on some of the major initiatives within DHA and the Military Health System (MHS).  Altogether over $50 billion a year is spent on DOD healthcare with about $2 billion that DHA allocates to IT.

Here are a few of the key upcoming priorities IT products manufacturers selling into the DHA and other entities within MHS should know about:

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A Roadmap for Health IT

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

In President Obama’s first weekly address back in January 2009, he called for every American to have an electronic health record by 2014. His statement at the time did not seem out of reach. After all, the benefits of consolidation and integration within Health IT were clear; lower costs and more efficiency would save money and save lives. It was a no brainer and the Department of Health & Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Department of Defense would lead the charge.Lloyd Health IT

Several years later, after cost overruns, political squabbling, bureaucratic infighting, and technical challenges the public Health IT space has seen its fair share of battle scars. In the last 18 months alone we have witnessed the VA and DOD abandon efforts to develop a unified electronic health record, the failed initial launch of the Affordable Care Act website, and an outdated electronic scheduling system at the VA, which contributed to the ongoing scandal over excessive wait times for veterans.

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The $6B Health IT Market: Exploring Opportunities Beyond EHRs

Christopher Wiedemann_headshot-65 x 85by Chris Wiedemann, Senior Analyst

Health IT in the federal government represents a $6 billion market.

Let that number sink in. It may seem high, but recent guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) indicate that “health IT” as a concept means much more than just EHRs. According to the report, there are three broad categories of health IT:

  • Administrative health IT functions: This includes billing and claims processing, practice and inventory management, and scheduling.
  • Health management IT functions: This category includes health information and data exchange, data capture and encounter documentation, electronic access to clinical results, clinical decision support, knowledge management, and patient identification.
  • Medical device health IT functions: Examples include computer aided detection/diagnostic software, radiation treatment planning, and robotic surgical planning and control software – in other words, devices actively used in medical treatments.

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Top 3 Procurement Priorities for the New Defense Health Agency

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

Those controlling the purse strings within the three-month old Defense Health Agency (DHA) are especially keen on shared services and opportunities to consolidate and are looking hard at chances for eliminating redundancies as it seeks to bring under one roof functions previously decentralized. The agency is also looking for ways to update its antiquated technology to increase efficiencies and cost savings. If you can identify opportunities and offer solutions along these lines, you are ahead of the pack.  Here are the top three procurement priorities for DHA:

1.  Upgrading its electronic health records

Last week, the DHA issued a RFP to maintain and incrementally upgrade its electronic health record (EHR) system, which is the world’s largest. The contract, worth up to $1 billion, sheds light on DHA’s timeline for entirely replacing the massive electronic health record system. The sustainment contract extends through 2018 making it likely DHA’s new EHR won’t come online until 2018/2019. The decision to extend the Pentagon’s current electronic health record for a few more years comes after the VA and DOD agreed last year to stop work on making their legacy systems interoperable. DOD decided it needed to focus on replacing its legacy healthcare IT system first. Both agencies though still plan to make their respective electronic health records interoperable. It’s worth noting that last fall DOD issued an award to continue providing systems integration and engineering support toward the interoperability effort.

2.  Consolidation

Infrastructure, portfolio rationalization, and application consolidation will be especially important over the next two fiscal years (FY14-15) as DHA seeks to bring together redundant IT functions that existed under the old Military Health System framework under its shared services model.  Also, in the absence of a proper integrated Electronic Health Record, the agency is looking for ways to enhance how VA and DOD’s respective infrastructures can better correlate patient data.

3. Mobility

Expect mobile platforms and applications to see widespread use throughout the defense medical complex. There are bound to be a lot of opportunities here given that the agency serves almost 10 million people through about 700 hospitals, clinics, and medical centers, not to mention medical facilities on naval ships. Before DHA dives into BYOD and mobility adoption, mobile security solutions will be of paramount importance.

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