It appears from early reports that IBM and Epic will partner for a bid on a $11B project to develop an EHR for the military. Perhaps unknown to the readers of this blog is that the military has wasted many billions of dollars in the past on multiple, unsuccessful attempts to develop an EHR. Here's a link to a blog note from nearly nine years ago about this topic: A Peak at the Military Healthcare Information System. Global IT failures are common (see: Modeling the Costs of IT System Failures Globally), particularly by governmental branches and agencies. Here's a link to the article announcing this new IBM/Epic partnership (see: IBM-Epic Team to Vie for $11 Billion Pentagon IT System) and below is an excerpt from it:
International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), the world’s biggest computer services provider, and Epic Systems Corp. will team up to compete for an $11 billion project to manage U.S. troops’ electronic health records. IBM announced its plans to bid today, even before the Defense Department formally starts the competition for the information-technology system. Rival bids may come from Accenture Plc (ACN) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) The winner gets one of the biggest opportunities in federal information technology, where new projects are under scrutiny after the flawed rollout of the Obamacare website. A better Pentagon system is needed so troops’ health records can be shared quickly with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is struggling to reduce backlogs in disability claims.“I hope people expect results, because this is where we show up,” Andy Maner, managing partner for IBM’s U.S. federal division, said in a phone interview. “We don’t bid on everything, but when we do, we want to change the world.”
The Pentagon’s solicitation for the contract, possibly with a 10-year duration, may be posted as early as next month, Maner said. IBM, based in Armonk, New York, already has more than 100 employees working to develop a proposal, he said.“This has been a thing we’ve had circled for more than three years,” Maner said....The planned system, which will replace the older one, will track U.S. forces’ health records no matter where they receive care, whether on base, on a ship, in a military hospital or close to combat. It will handle the health records of 9.7 million beneficiaries, including active-duty military, retirees and their dependents. “Service members, their families and health-care providers who care for them deserve the best health care our country can provide,” Carl Dvorak, president of Verona, Wisconsin-based Epic, said in a statement. “They would benefit from an integrated system that leverages best practices from other large and successful health-care organizations.
First of all, I want to recognize Mr. Andy Maner of IBM's federal division for what may be one the most inane quotes ever from a corporate executive: “We don’t bid on everything, but when we do, we want to change the world.” Maner is a government retread who has taken advantage of the revolving door and soft-landed in IBM's federal division. By comparison, the quote from Carl Dvorak of Epic about the military EHR is reserved and actually makes some sense: “[The military] would benefit from an integrated system that leverages best practices from other large and successful health-care organizations.
Judith Faulkner has developed a keen understanding that many hospital CEOs/CIOs are desperately searching for solutions and are very willing to take their marching orders from Epic to deploy an EHR (see: Some Hospitals Can't Get Past the Final Epic Deployment Step: the "Judy Check"). Unfortunately, this same rule does not apply to the military brass and their healthcare system. The closest analogue to the military healthcare system I can think of is the VA health system and we know how this is going. The generals and admirals in charge would never admit to any degree of incompetence and they are surrounded by subordinates who will confirm their bosses' talent. Our federal government is highly inept at developing information systems and even contracting for them. By way of evidence of this, I cite our recent experience with healthcare.gov (see: Major Conflict of Interest with QSSI, the Contractor for the Health Insurance Exchange; The Health Insurance Marketplace: A Case Study of Incompetence).
So what's is the eventual fate of IBM and Epic should the military buy their inflated rhetoric and accept their proposal for yet another shot at a military EHR? By the way, this is by no means a certainty because the predisposition of the military brass would be to choose a missile and tank contractor for their EHR project. I predict, should the IBM and Epic proposal be accepted, that the project will get bogged down by the federal bureaucracy/malaise and that all of the other Epic hospital clients will eventually start to feel the pain.
:: Update on 6/24/20014