Answer: All three behemoths want to make healthcare information technology more open, accessible and cost effective.
Let’s start with the Department of Defense. This fall, the DoD published a long-awaited Request for Proposal (RFP) to modernize its electronic health records and allow the DoD to share health data with the private sector and the Department of Veterans Affairs. On the surface this looks to be a multi-billion dollar contract that will modernize how healthcare is delivered within all branches of the armed forces as well as the extensive Veterans Administration network. In raw numbers, the new system stats are:
- 9.6 million beneficiaries
- 153,000 Military Health System personnel
- Took 11 months to prepare the RFP
- Was the result of over 1,500 questions submitted to private industry.
The stated goal of this project is to “leverage the latest commercial technologies, improve usability, and save on costs”. For private industry, this means that in order to win this project, bidders need to propose open and interconnected solutions – a paradigm shift from the silo-like systems that exist today.
Coincidentally, Apple and IBM announced a “Global Partnership to Transform Mobility” via a new class of business apps – namely bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to the iPhone and iPad. What does this announcement have to do with healthcare IT? Well, it’s no secret that both IBM and Apple view the healthcare market as an excellent opportunity. But the only way to make significant progress is by working together to upset the status quo. Knocking down the historical barriers in healthcare is so difficult that even Apple knows it cannot go it alone.
So now we have the Department of Defense changing the landscape via an enormous contract as well as Apple and IBM bringing their best technologies to the market – with this much momentum, changes are inevitable. When is the last time you saw a large government program have this much potential impact on the private sector? The space program (NASA) and the birth of the Internet (DARPA) come to mind.
Healthcare is our knowledge base, or mantra is improve usability and save on costs, our technology is all mobile, and we are already working with several of these and other large players. Hang on, it’s going to be quite a ride.