An airman files patient health records at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

An airman files patient health records at Langley Air Force Base, Va. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jason J. Brown

Pentagon’s New Health Record System Will Cost $1.5 Billion

The original system was ditched last year after costs spiraled to $28 billion. By Bob Brewin

The Pentagon plans to spend $1.5 billion procuring a new, commercial electronic health record system from 2017 through 2019, new budget documents disclosed.

The Defense Health Agency said in January that it planned to field the new EHR in phases, starting with a test site at Fort Lewis, Wash., in 2016 and full deployment to 57 hospitals, 364 medical clinics, 282 dental clinics, 225 vet clinics and 321 ships by 2019.

DHA also requested a budget of $723 million -- up $70 million from 2014 -- to operate and maintain its current EHR systems, including the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, or AHLTA, and the Composite Health Care System, or CHCS, which manages clinician order entry. DHA kicked off a procurement last month for a sustainment contract that could be awarded by the end of this month to keep the legacy EHRs -- which serve 9.7 million patients and 230,000 clinical personnel -- in operation through 2018.

The budget documents also show Defense plans to change the focus of its integrated electronic health record program, a decade-old project to develop a joint record with the Veterans Affairs Department that was ditched in February 2013 after costs spiraled to $28 billion.

Congress directed the two departments to develop a plan for EHR data sharing in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. DHA said the iEHR program will be renamed the Defense Medical Information Exchange and focus developing information infrastructure and data interoperability capabilities to securely and reliably exchange health information with the VA and all other health care providers.

DHA projected it will spend $16 million to develop the information exchange over the next three years. The agency forecast spending $12.5 million over the five years on the Theater Medical Information Program-Joint which provides EHR systems to deployed units.