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Inspector General recommends launch date for DoD EHR be reconsidered

When Cerner Corp. was chosen to take on the task of connecting the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) 55 hospitals and 600 clinics, it was declared a big win for the EHR vendor.

But the DOD’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is recommending in an audit report that the DoD and Cerner reconsider the initial go-live date because the “mandated execution schedule may not be realistic for meeting the required initial operational capability date of December 2016.”

The OIG explained in the audit report that while the DoD Healthcare Management System Modernization program has identified risk and mitigation strategies, rushing the system into use by December may create other risks.

These include “potential delays involved in developing and testing the interfaces needed to interact with legacy systems, ensuring the system is secure against cyber attacks, and ensuring the fielded system works correctly and that users are properly trained.”

Zane Burke, president of Cerner, told SearchHealthIT in a video interview that the endeavor would not be easy.

“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 says in the video. “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.”

However, the OIG is recommending that a schedule analysis be performed and that program risks continue to be monitored.

Regardless, one industry analyst, Nancy Fabozzi, principal analyst for connected health at the Frost & Sullivan consulting firm, told SearchHealthIT that she thinks Cerner was the EHR vendor best suited for the job.

“Cerner is seen as being more interoperable and they sort of ooze efficiency,” Fabozzi said.