State Department works toward electronic health record for diplomatic corps

The department leans on a paper-based system to manage health care support for 75,000 people around the world.

The State Department has provided some additional insights on its plan to field a new electronic health record system as companies have asked for more information on the size and scope of the work.

In a May 23 sources sought notice, the State Department and its Bureau of Medical Services explained how the department wants to develop a contract to field EHR system that would serve 75,000 people globally.

The Bureau of Medical Services operates the health system that supports the diplomatic corps around the world, but the department still uses a paper-based system, according to the request for information.

Also known as MED, the bureau has a network of 400 medical providers at 210 locations that include Washington, D.C.

“Modernizing the existing health records system will allow MED providers to access and update patient information in a centralized repository, ultimately improving the quality, transparency, and efficiency of administering care,” the department wrote.

State wants a software-as-a-service solution that would support features such as a provider portal, document uploading, and reporting functions.

In some of the questions, potential bidders are asking the department about specific details such as the size of the caseloads and desired portal features. But one person asked, “What are three key drivers and constraints?

For State, a key driver is regulatory requirements for an EHR system and the need to move away from a paper-based system. The department also wants to standardize how care is given across its operations.

One key constraint is the budget environment because the Bureau of Medical Services cannot count on increased funding.

State has also pointed out some technical constraints – the EHR needs to be deployed on the department's OpenNet intranet system.

The department also wants to host all of its applications in a single cloud computing environment. State prefers the Amazon Web Services offering, but also said that AWS not a requirement.

The Bureau of Medical Services has been working on an electronic health record system for nearly 10 years, so early results are needed.

“MED has been developing an EHR solution for over a decade and MED needs not only to show demonstrable progress but also demonstrate to stakeholders that there is proverbial light at the end of the tunnel,” State wrote in response to the question.

The State Department is collecting questions and comments through Monday. No timetable for a solicitation yet.