Report: Bulk of iEHR funds spent on support services

More than $300 million in funding for an integrated EHR system at the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs was spent on support service contracts in 2012, according to a report from the Interagency Program Office (IPO).

IPO is charged with modernizing the military health system's EHR software.

In 2009, DOD and VA first launched an effort to create a joint integrated EHR designed to allow every service member to maintain a single EHR throughout his or her career and lifetime. In February, however, DOD and VA officials announced plans to halt the iEHR project and focus on making their current EHR systems more interoperable instead.

The $329.2 million IPO spent on support services contracts in 2012 was intended to help fill 236 staff vacancies. By the end of the year, 141 of the vacancies had been filled with permanent federal civilian employees and DOD and VA employees on detailed assignments. Only $19.3 million was spent on securing government staff in 2012.

The report also sheds further light on the reasons the original iEHR plans were scrapped. They include staffing challenges; bureaucratic red tape; and senior officials not approving requests in a reasonable timeframe.

Since the demise of the iEHR project, DOD has announced plans to spend between $4 billion and $5 billion on a commercial EHR system. Meanwhile, VA has said it will upgrade its existing Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA).