The Department of Defense has modified its electronic health record system contract with government contractor Leidos to meet new EHR hosting requirements that DoD says can only be met by data centers owned and operated by Cerner Corp.

In July, the Leidos-Cerner team won the coveted 10-year, $4.3 billion contract award to modernize DoD’s EHR worldwide. However, under a recently announced sole-source award, which is not to exceed $5 million per year, the Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization (DHMSM) EHR will now be hosted in Cerner’s facilities despite the fact that the original request for proposals required hosting in military computing centers.

According to DoD, direct access to proprietary Cerner data is necessary to fully enable the capabilities of the DHMSM EHR, which cannot be realized unless it is hosted in Cerner’s data centers.

“The proprietary data consists of quantitative models and strategies which are the result of extensive Cerner-funded research and development efforts conducted over 15 years,” reports a December 18 federal business opportunities announcement. “The models are based on analysis of clinical, operational and financial data associated and incorporate vast amounts of actual longitudinal patient data and information collected through other Cerner applications. Deploying the DHMSM EHR into any other hosting solution would prevent access to these models and data.”

DoD contends that it “could not have anticipated this solution-specific need,” which is why the recently announced sole-source modification to add the hosting requirements to the Leidos contract was not included in the original request for proposals. However, some EHR vendors remain skeptical, questioning whether Cerner bid a compliant solution in the first place, which is why the contract now is being changed.

Cerner, in response to a query, issued a statement that said, “We bid a fully compliant solution based on the RFP and requirements.” The DoD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

For its part, the DHMSM Program Office issued a request for information in September to determine what EHR hosting options were available to meet its requirement. “While the evaluation of submissions in response to the RFI revealed that some commercial firms can provide solutions which meet the basic technical requirements of the system, none of the responses indicated that a firm could provide direct access to the proprietary Cerner data necessary,” the DoD indicated in a statement.

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