DOD Announces Plan to Replace AHLTA with Commercial EHR System

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has announced that the Department of Defense (DoD) will undertake “a full and open competition for a core set of capabilities for healthcare management software modernization” to replace the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA).

A DoD press release also explains that “Secretary Hagel directed that DoD will continue near-term coordinated efforts with the VA to develop data federation, presentation, and enhanced interoperability.  This near term goal shall be pursued as a first priority.” The under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics will assume responsibility for DoD healthcare records interoperability and related modernization programs. The assistant secretary of defense for health affairs will serve as the functional sponsor for the initiative, and the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness will serve as the overall lead for coordination with the under secretary for health at the VA on health and other personnel matters.

In a memo, Secretary Hagel explained the reasoning behind his decision:

“A competitive process will allow DoD to consider commercial alternatives that may offer reduced cost, reduced schedule and technical risk, and access to increased current capability and future growth in capability by leveraging ongoing advances in the commercial marketplace.  There are good reasons for VA to have selected its legacy system, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), as the basis for its EHR core.  However, many of these reasons do not apply to DoD.  Also based on DoD’s market research, a VistA-based solution will likely be part of one or more competitive offerings that DoD receives.”

During a press conference on the issue, under secretary Kendall suggested that Beth McGrath and the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer will continue in a program executive officer role to help ensure DoD succeeds in its effort to deliver on an interoperable electronic health record.