With the Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin announcing on Monday that his agency will be using the same technology as the Department of Defense (DoD), people were concerned about the fate of Epic Corp. who won a similar contract in 2015. The system opted by the DoD is MHS Genesis, and is being developed by Cerner Corp. and Leidos.
For the concerned parties, the $600 million contract between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Epic Systems Corp. will remain in force despite Cerner Corp providing the main electronic health record services. This is because VA said that Epic was not a contender for the EHR. The company won a separate contract in 2015 whose sole purpose was to develop an online medical appointment scheduling program for veterans. This was worth approximately $624 million over five years.
Cerner and Leidos had beaten Epic and IBM in 2015 for Defense Department contract worth $4.3 billion over 10 years. Epic was working with Systems Made Simple, which at that time was a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. The system was then acquired by Leidos, which is the company that is currently working with Cerner on the major military records contract.
According to an article on Healthcare Informatics, a Veterans Health Administration official told a Congressional committee in February that a pilot project on the veterans’ medical appointment scheduling software was underway, with results expected in 18 months.
In his announcement Monday, Shulkin was noted to be not immediately clear about the fate of Epic contract for scheduling doctors’ appointments. He simply said that the goal was to make health records seamless as military soldiers become veterans. “Having a veteran’s complete and accurate health record in a single common EHR system is critical to that care, and to improving patient safety,” Shulkin said.
Shulkin made no mention of the scheduling contract that was being developed by Epic. The position of the scheduling software was clarified by a VA spokesman on Tuesday who stated that the Cerner arrangement was for electronic health records only. “There is no connection to appointment scheduling, etc. and we expect no changes resulting from the new EHR contract,” VA spokesman Randal Noller wrote in an email exchange.
Interestingly, Epic electronic health record software has also released a statement about the situation. In an email exchange, Epic spokesman Meghan Roh wrote, “We are proud to serve our veterans both through the VA scheduling project and through our customers that care for millions of veterans across America. These customers are the top health systems in America and we stand with them, committed and eager to ensure veterans get the very best medical care regardless of where they receive it.”