VA to Use More Challenges in Developing EHRs

Department of Veterans Affairs Chief Information Officer Roger Baker said he will look to increase the agency’s use of challenges when it comes to the development of electronic health records to lower procurement risks.

Baker said this morning that using challenges that are compatible with open source increases the likelihood of getting him a better technology solution than the traditional government procurement policy while spending a similar amount of money.

“Open source creates budget opportunities,” Baker said at AFCEA Bethesda’s Health IT Day at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. “We get a lot more for the dollars we spend.”

Challenges and open source gives him a percentage in the “high 90s” of getting a successful outcome, compared to the traditional government model, where an outcome of even 70 percent is wishful thinking, he said.


“Even if I spend the exact same amount it lowers the risk and, quite frankly, gets me a better package,” he said.

Baker said that the challenges allow the department to see which private sector solutions work best with their mission with the real prize – besides the nominal financial win – being that the solution is then up for consideration for wide-scale deployment.

He said that open source will help the VA and the Defense Department stay on par with private sector solutions in the future with its electronic health records. He said to be successful in this project – and others for that matter – it’s important to know that you will need to adapt in the future. If you go in with that thinking, he said, there is a greater opportunity to adapt to emerging technologies.

As for the continued development of EHRs, Baker said the next five to 10 years of the industry won’t be defined by the macro-economic drivers that tend to steer these sorts of innovations, but the choices consumers make, which will likely come down to the data made available to them.

“Everything you think about in terms of electronic health records decisions, think about how will this provide access to data? How is it going to get us to analysis of how the human machine works?”

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