On June 4-5, 2009, the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) held the annual Government Health IT Conference in Washington, DC. A myriad of prolific speakers from all parts of the health information technology (IT) industry addressed conference attendees, touching upon topics such as the economic stimulus package, the role of electronic health records (EHRs) in health care reform and the new administration's priorities. Amongst the speakers was the newly appointed Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Aneesh Chopra, who provided the closing keynote address. Chopra was the Virginia Secretary of Technology before accepting his new federal role.
Technology vendors may see major improvements in the contracting process under Chopra which could enable them to more frequently engage in discussions and they may get more face-to-face time with government officers. Throughout Chopra's speech he focused on the ineffectiveness of the current Request for Proposal (RFP) process that has become commonplace in the government contracting world. He indicated that innovation by RFP is silly because RFP's stifle innovation with long lists of requirements. Historically, procurement rules and processes were built around obtaining the best and fair prices for commodities, but overtime have evolved to encompass complex IT systems that really don't fit within the model. Chopra indicated that it's hard for companies with innovative ideas to create a business case when they don't have GovWin in the development of the RFP which has led to a gap between federal architecture and IT acquisition. Chopra is interested in exploring different approaches to procurement that will foster innovation and align policy goals when purchasing technology. He intends to seek a separate, new methodology to acquire health IT systems. One example he cited of an innovative approach to IT procurement is an application that the Department of Defense recently released, called DefenseSolutions.gov, which is a web-site that outlines the problem and seeks vendor GovWin on potential solutions. Chopra will be looking to utilize similar innovative forums to spur health IT market innovation.
As the health IT industry tries to tackle health care reform, out of control expenditures and improve health care outcomes, contractors will be called upon to provide innovative solutions which will no longer be smothered by lengthy requirements.