The Department of Defense has awarded a five-year, $139 million contract to McKesson’s RelayHealth to strengthen patient engagement and interoperable secure messaging for the military health system.

Under the sole-source contract, RelayHealth will seek to improve access to care for more than 9 million DoD beneficiaries, bolster care team coordination across provider care settings, as well as enhance patient engagement through secure messaging, educational content and care management tools.

Ken Tarkoff, senior vice president and general manager of RelayHealth, says that DoD’s “security requirements are substantially higher than they are in the commercial space.” In its announcement of the contract award, DoD officials added that the value of secure messaging is that it “facilitates delegation-of-care tasks to providers with the expertise to deal with them without escalating all messages to the physician level.”

A division of McKesson, RelayHealth sees this latest contract award as a continuation of its recent work for DoD. However, this time the company is in the position of being the prime contractor and not in a subcontractor role, according to Tarkoff.

Mitch Mitchell, vice president for federal solutions at RelayHealth, contends that as the military continues to move towards a more patient-centered and connected model of care, actively engaging patients in their healthcare is critical for the military to achieve cost-effective delivery of coordinated, value-based care.

“The Defense Health Agency represents a pretty unique health system with a very complex mission,” says Mitchell. “It’s a global organization, so we’re focused not just on supporting beneficiaries at domestic DOD hospitals but also those in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere where they are deployed.”

According to Mitchell, RelayHealth’s solutions will facilitate access worldwide to military care teams, including doctors, nurses and physician assistants. He adds that the Defense Health Agency is committed to engaging with patients “in between visits to provide education and insight into healthy behaviors” with the goal of achieving better health outcomes.

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