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Call Intermountain a consultant on Cerner’s big-bucks military EHR bid..

By Joseph Conn 

When Cerner Corp., the Kansas City, Mo.-based electronic health-record developer, announced last week that Intermountain would be helping a consortium of IT firms, including Cerner, in its bid to win a 10-year, estimated $11 billion deal to replace the Military Health System’s multiple EHRs, the most obvious question was what exactly would be Intermountain’s role in the bid.

Consultant is “probably the single best word” to describe Intermountain’s role with Cerner, Intermountain Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. Stanley Huff said in an interview after the announcement.

“The current database and data dictionary at the DoD have the same structure and nearly the same content as the system at Intermountain,” Huff explained. “Our current live system and the DoD’s current live system are almost identical.”

Last fall, Intermountain announced it had contracted with Cerner to purchase and install its EHR in Intermountain’s 22 hospitals and 185 clinics. The experience both Cerner and Intermountain will gain from that massive installation—and other work between the two—could be beneficial to the military, Huff said.

“There is more or less a standard Cerner install, and there is a part of our agreement that is a co-development,” Huff said. The aim, he said, is to create new capabilities in the Cerner system.

“We’re hoping we can benefit the DoD with some of the new things,” he said, as well as impart some knowledge gained from Intermountain undergoing its own installation just ahead of the military. Bids on the military system are due Oct. 9.

In its bid Cerner is working with Leidos, a defense and national security contractor, and Accenture Federal Services, a systems integrator and consultant. At least three other prime contractors have chosen EHR vendor partners and announced their intention to bid as well—IBM with Epic Systems Corp.; Computer Science Corp., teamed with Allscripts and Hewlett-Packard Co.; and finally PricewaterhouseCoopers, paired with General Dynamics and EHR developers DSS and Medsphere.

Cerner’s introduction of a big-name healthcare provider like Intermountain as a collaborator is reminiscent of what IT giants Google and Microsoft Corp. did when they waged a personal health-record platform war in 2008. Google ballyhooed its recruitment of the Cleveland Clinic and Microsoft, the Mayo Clinic, as development partners on their PHRs, the now-defunct Google Health, and the extant Microsoft Health Vault.

So far, however, none of the other three Defense contract bidders have identified a provider partner similarly committed to the contracting process.

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn

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