IBM Corp. and Epic Systems Corp., likely hoping to show why their joint bid should win the Defense Department's $11 billion, 10-year EHR contract, Wednesday unveiled a 17-person group they've assembled to help advise the department and guide it through implementation if they win the work.
The team primarily includes executives from large providers who have already implemented Epic electronic health-record systems such as Kaiser Permanente, based in Oakland, Calif.; Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pa.; Mercy Health, Chesterfield, Mo.; Partners HealthCare, Boston; and Sentara Health, based in Norfolk, Va. Also included are a representative from the American Medical Informatics Association, and retired Maj. Will Lyles, a patient advocate.
At a Washington, D.C., event announcing the team's formation, representatives from the group were keen to stress the level of satisfaction Epic's system had given them, and the level of help they received from other Epic-using chief information officers. They insisted the event was not meant to be a pitch for the military business, although it would be difficult for an outsider to see it as anything but that.
Epic and IBM are vying for the contract against other big-name bidders. Cerner teamed up with Leidos and Accenture Federal Services to compete for the business. Allscripts, meanwhile, formed an alliance with Computer Sciences Corp. and Hewlett-Packard for a bid. PricewaterhouseCoopers is heading a team that proposes using the VA's VistA open-source EHR system. The 10-year contract will likely be awarded this summer.
Bert Reese, the CIO of Sentara, said that Epic users are eager to share tips and either develop new applications themselves or urge Epic to develop ones for them.
That level of mutual assistance is critical to ensuring the Defense Department gets the most value out of the system, and to ensuring that IBM and Epic meet the deadlines prescribed by the agency's request for proposals.
This is “all about increasing the odds of success. You can't just say, 'Here's the software and good luck,' ” said Andy Maner, IBM's managing partner of U.S. federal business.
Executives present also stressed Epic's ability to share patient data smoothly. One particular concern raised at the meeting was the ability to share data between the Defense Department and the Veterans Health Administration, which has been problematic. Epic has come in for some criticism on the interoperability issue.
But Carl Dvorak, Epic's chief operating officer, cited statistics that Epic shares more data with the VA than its competitors, despite not having a substantial lead in the number of hospitals.
Follow Darius Tahir on Twitter: @dariustahir