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Cerner's Zane Burke, military IT expert discuss DoD EHR contract

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When Cerner Corp. won the bid for the highly-sought-after $4.3 billion EHR contract for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), it was a historic win for the EHR vendor, beating out rival vendors including Epic Systems Corp.

At the CHIME15 Fall CIO Forum, Zane Burke, president of Cerner, and Colonel Nicole Kerkenbush, military deputy program executive officer for the Defense Healthcare Management Systems within the Department of Defense, discussed the details of the DoD EHR contract.  They also spoke of how Cerner expects to take on a network of new clinics and hospitals while making sure current clients are still taken care of.

"We have done this type of scale before," Burke said. "We have already staffed up to do this."

Burke pointed out the DoD has not requested a customized EHR product be created for them. Instead, the DoD is using the same off-the-shelf product as everyone else.

"So the software itself is exactly what we do each and every day," Burke said.

Intermountain Healthcare -- a hospital system based in Salt Lake City, Utah -- is also playing a role in the DoD EHR contract, Burke and Kerkenbush said.

We have done this type of scale before. We have already staffed up to do this.
Zane BurkePresident of Cerner Corp.

"It gives us another opportunity really to learn from [Intermountain] and, frankly, [for Intermountain to] learn from us as well," Kerkenbush said. She added the DoD visited Intermountain to learn more about the company’s experiences and gather lessons learned concerning deployment, testing, integration, change management, communications, etc. with Cerner's EHR.

"We have folks across the globe, so that part is very unique. There is nowhere that military health is not being delivered at some point in the 24 hours in a day. So we do have to be cognizant of that," Kerkenbush said. "And we do have some platform uniquenesses… like on a ship or in a tent in the middle of Afghanistan. But it doesn't change the way we deliver care. I want to get the same quality of care no matter where I'm at."

Burke expressed his excitement in taking on the challenges that come with the DoD EHR contract and this new venture.

"The use cases are both challenging and awe-striking, as you think about what those men and women are out doing serving our country, serving the nation and their need for care in very difficult, challenging settings," Burke said. "Our role is to make sure that no matter where that soldier or their family is… the electronic health record transfers with them and they have access to that."

Tell us what you think Cerner's win means for the overall EHR market. Email Kristen Lee, news writer, or find her on Twitter @Kristen_Lee_34.

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