Cerner’s DOD contract will now include the Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced it will join the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) $4.3 billion rollout of a Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system, giving the health IT giant yet another major customer within the federal government.

As first reported by FCW, the Coast Guard will be added to the existing 10-year contract with the DOD, with no estimate as to how much Cerner will be paid for the additional work. Michael Johnston, the Coast Guard’s director of acquisition programs, mentioned to FCW that 6,000 Coast Guard members receive care in DOD hospitals and clinics and its overall about 2 percent of the DOD’s size.

Johnston doesn’t expect the rollout will take as long as the DOD’s deployment of the MHS Genesis system, which began in facilities in the Pacific Northwest. He said the Coast Guard could begin testing the EHR during the DOD’s “next wave or the wave after that.”

Like other parts of the military, the Coast Guard has struggled with past EHR projects. A $14 million Epic implementation was scrapped in 2016, with the branch returning to paper records.

The extra business comes as the larger Cerner deal with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs remains in limbo. The contract was awarded without a competitive bidding process, based in part of the need for interoperability with the DOD, by now-fired VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD. By the time Shulkin was ousted, however, no contract had been signed, reportedly due to Shulkin’s dissatisfaction with Cerner’s guarantees on interoperability between the VA and DOD systems.

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