Fix Department of Veterans Affairs

Benjamin KrauseGoogle is squaring off against three competitors for a contract to fix Department of Veterans Affairs electronic medical record platform for VA hospitals. Well, the program is actually to help resolve the seemless medical records problem between DoD and VA. Google plans to team up with PricewaterhouseCoopers to bid on the $11 billion Pentagon contract. Part of the contract is to help integrate DoD’s secure platform with VA’s “VistA”.

RELATED: DoD, VA medical record integration debacle, $1bil spent, no plan

But do we really want Google to have our health care data? They already have so much information about all of our search traffic, psychometric information, and behavioral data, should we add our health care and disability data to the mix?

Google would have access to lots of information. Let’s not forget that just a year ago VA Health Administration teamed up with Kaiser Permanente to collaborate on population management research. With Google added to the mix revamping the medical records systems, it seems plausible that a lot of data will be collated very quickly into the hands of very powerful companies.

The four bidders on the program are:

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )
  • IBM (NYSE: IBM  ), teamed with privately held Epic Systems
  • an alliance of Cerner (NASDAQ: CERN  ), Accenture (NYSE: ACN  ), and Leidos (NYSE: LDOS  )
  • a team consisting of Allscripts (NASDAQ: MDRX  ), Computer Sciences  (NYSE: CSC  ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ).

ModernHealthcare thinks the Google combo will succeed in the bidding war. Here is a little context on how government contracting for these huge tech programs is working out:

According to data from S&P Capital IQ, Google generates a whopping 23% operating profit margin from its operations. That’s a good 2.5 percentage points more than next-most-profitable operator Cerner — and 27 percentage points ahead of Allscripts, where operating profit margins are negative.

So if winning this contract comes down to a bidding war, Google’s got the most room to sacrifice profit margins in order to underprice the competition. Anyone trying to undercut Google’s price may find itself operating at a loss.

There’s also Google’s sheer size to consider and its ability to ramp up rapidly to capture new markets. Three years ago, Google won one of its most significant battles for a government IT contract, beating out Microsoft  (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) for the right to revamp the U.S. Department of the Interior’s email systems with its “Google Apps” software suite. Back then, the win was small potatoes for Google — about $35 million over five years. Since then, however, Google’s abilities in government IT have grown.

Last year, CIO magazine reported that Google and Microsoft were already in a “2-horse race” when it comes to bidding for government cloud computing contracts. Google has rolled out software (“Google Apps for Government”) specifically tailored to government use, won clients in the General Services Administration and National Archives, and underpriced Microsoft’s Office 365 product by about 16%.

Despite the huge pricing benefit from hiring Google, I am somewhat concerned about my private data being misused. Google already knows so much about me including my likes and dislikes.

Do I really want Google knowing all my health history and my disability background? No.

What do you think about Google having immediate access to all your health care data? Does this Department of Veterans Affairs fix sound good to you?

Source: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/02/01/jon-stewart-says-the-veterans-affairs-department-i.aspx

27 COMMENTS

  1. 1. The Buffalo Department of Veterans Affairs denied paying compensation and health care as late as December 2013; because the Buffalo DVA claimed that they could not find of government records, to include their own INtraNET , of my service in Vietnam exposed to herbicides (agent orange). However, I found on the INterNET, DVA January 2010 Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211): Information on Vietnam Naval Operations…provided presumption of exposure to the crew of ships that operated on “rivers” and “deltas. The history of the USS Newport News CA-148 includes operations in the Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong “DELTA” December 1968 ( ; ) And, the June 2010 DVA Compensation & Pension Bulletin Policy (211): ADDITIONAL Information on Vietnam Operations ships list – received by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs – lists the USS Newport News for operation(s): Cua Viet “RIVER”. According to Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions, I am no longer a claimant, I am referred to as: “Veteran”
    2. Of the Buffalo DVA April 2014 Examination, The Buffalo DVA still has not rated my aneurysms: one upper large artery; one lower large artery.
    3. The medical records of April 2014 Buffalon DVA Review should have showed that my type II diabetes is Uncontrolled ( not controlled ).
    4. The Buffalo DVA references my erectile dysfunction to my diabetes, only. However, I have been diagnosed of having ischemic heart disease to as early as 2000 by the Buffalo DVA Examiner. Ischemic heart disease causes lack of blood flow. The Buffalo DVA rated my ischemic heart disease 60%; yet , circumvents Special Monthly Compensation for my impotence ! The Buffalo DVA also circumvents paying RETRO of my erectile dysfunction PRESCRIPTION RECORDS for Viagra as early as 1994 and PRECRIPTIONS of ANDROGEL that followed. Nonetheless, The Nehmer Court Order gives The Buffalo DVA 21 days of their June 05, 2014 Decision to pay RETRO compensation of the Buffalo DVA”s diagnosis of my ischemic heart disease as early as 2000. Since then, I have written the DVA Attn: Nehmer Working Group (211A) in Washington DC 20420 three times. The Nehmer Working group (according to the internet) received my third letter third letter December 18, 2014. I haven’t received any direct answer from the Nehmer Working Group; except, information from DVA of other address(es) notified: that, my claim was sent to / received by the Board of Veterans Appeal (Board) ( ; ) to further delay / deny my claim; defying strict compliance to The Nehmer Court Order (the Nehmer Training Guide Feb. 2011 Revised); defying also: Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions (by law clerk Nichols); for compensation( ; ) example…incubation period(s).
    6. I haven’t received any of the green cards / signatures either for return receipt requested (paid for the service). I had to make record of the internet; and, I have yet to go to the post office to file complaint / get copy of the third verification of delivery. What’s up with the post office at the DVA Washington DC ?
    7. My appeal on Board of Veterans Appeals Form 9 is to have my claim processed to The Nehmer Training Guide; as, it should have been done so in the first place. The Nehmer Court Order states that Nehmer claims have priority; yet, the operator at The Board of Veterans Affairs indicated that The Board of Veterans Appeals is back-logged to 2012. And, the operator indicates that my claim is not: DOCKETED a Nehmer Claim. What’s up with that ?
    8. Such is how the Buffalo DVA ( ; ) the Nehmer Working Group (211A) Washington DC ( ; ) and, the post office 20420 treats this Veteran.
    9. Please be sure to read (be instructed by) Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions (by law clerk Nichols October 2010). I sent a copy to The Department of Veterans Affairs Attn: Nehmer Working Group (211A) Washington DC. Also, read (be instructed by) The Nehmer Training Guide (211A) and The Nehmer Training Guide Fwb. 2011 Revised.
    10, Nehmer states… no time limit to file information…on Nehmer claims. Yes, have your claims adjudicated / re-adjudicated to the above documents.

  2. Just MUSING, another GOVT. controlled ANALYST. Things can / do get MISPLACED when there is a PROFIT in it.
    Why can’t a BOARD OF DIRECTORS composed of Vets review some of these companies that will determine our fate ?

  3. Really bad idea ! So google, a start-up data mining company, funded by the CIA , and of recent purchased Boston Dynamics wants to control all veterans data. This is a match made in hell, with Satan as the bridegroom.
    This is not surprising to me as an old vet, we are living in the century of 1984, and it’s all about control & assumed power. Thank God I don’t have Facebook. Just wait until Boston Dynamics reveal the million dollar soldier with advanced AI, that doesn’t react to PTSI.

  4. You’ve confused the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. The DoD healthcare proposal has nothing to do with VA.

  5. Sorry everyone, this is another don’t hold your breath moment. Surprised Michelle Obama’s friends didn’t use their undue influence to snatch the bid.

    • Before I comment on what you said, I would like to see that information showing her involvement, cause if I’m not mistaken congress and the Senate budget committee has to approve it. Show me differently.

  6. The part I am concerned about is what if Google decides to outsource the VA Medical Records and some far away country who when you call, are worst than what we already deal with here? Rudeness will go to, “excuse me, could you repeat that, again, again and again.” Then we will have other countries controlling the claims process. How will that work when the real reason will be the files are truly lost? But where. No, I think Google should not have this contract. But what can we do about it? To make sure it does not happen

    Thanks.

    • Carolyn, you have a very good point about this and you bring up something I was not thinking about. Having all of that important and sensitive information that could be just “out there” is a very scary thought.
      What can we do? you are correct, nothing. Hope and pray it doesn’t happen and that most likely it. Such a shame, we are going to be sold to the highest (or in this case the one who can underbid and still make a profit from us) bidder and then we can only hold our breath and wait until the worst starts to happen.

      • figure8fan, Right now s we speak, I am fighting with Comfort Keepers who sent a young lady into our home to provide services under a Department of Veterans Affairs contract to care for my husband. First the services were to be for 2 hours a day 7 days a week. But rarely could Comfort Keepers provide weekend services. Then one Saturday, two people showed up. One who was the regular person, which would have been easier on my husband with Dementia. Then a new person. So the new person comes into our home and I show her to Joseph’s room and try to explain what needs to be done.. All the while small talk is taking place. Like her mother’s is ill, she is now in college and that weekend was her weekend off and she drove 45 minutes to get to out home. Then the regular person shows up. But a week later, I learn she was asked to come back to our home, to work on the weekend. She told Comfort Keepers, she did not want to come back to our home due to an incident that took place a week earlier. Like she reported it when called to drive 45 more minutes for 2 hours. Comfort Keepers, in turn tells me that their people have the right to refuse an assignment if it is not the “right fit.” So the “right fit” for the client would be to send someone that have no clue of what veterans go through and allow them to lie? The “right fit” would mean you do not ask your workers to drive 45 minutes on the weekend. The “right fit” would be do not accept lies and give the veteran, your client, the benefit of the doubt.

        So let’s just say Google is not the “right fit” for this contract. Maybe it will work for us. It worked for Comfort Keepers.

        Carolyn

  7. This could possibly be the worst case scenario ever dreamed up.
    1) EMRs are a disaster. HIPPA is being ignoredd and records are being transferred without permission because it’s too easy.
    2) Trying to keep Big Brother and the Holding Company (Goo gle) out of our affairs is already a full time job. When you invite Goo gle into your house through the front , it’s 100% over for all of us. All privacy is GONE. Note: Use Epic Privacy Browser

  8. Before VA”s Vista is seemlessly linked with the DoD, Vista has to be improved upon or replaced. There is also the human factor at the VA that has to be improved on.

  9. I think this is a great idea. The exponential powers Google has would only benefit the Archaic VA mentality in a significant manner. This is another example of disruption, when Linear Ideas and business practices, produce lackluster products. This is very exciting, only those that do not comprehend or understand the technology benefits would be fearful of such a marriage. FEAR stands for False Expectations Appearing Real.

  10. Do people honestly believe that Google will do something nefarious with VA medical data? Their company motto since day 1 has been “Don’t be evil.” They have revolutionized email, search, maps, and so many other aspects of technology that make life better and easier for millions of people. I have no problem whatsoever with Google being involved, even if they have my personal data. I would trust them 10 times more than I trust the VA, and bringing Google into the mix will bring top notch talent into the problem to get a sustainable and common sense fix. We need a next generation technology company involved, and I can think of no better organization to tackle this. I hope they win the contract.

  11. Bad idea. I’m sure that they don’t have any programmers who know MUMPS language. Changing this would be a nightmare. The CPRS is fine. The problem is that it doesn’t talk to VISTA and vice versus.

  12. To be direct, here’s what I think about who should get the contract: Allscripts, Computer Science, HP. Cerner, Accenture, Leidos would also be good except for the inclusion of Leidos, who I don’t trust Cerner and Accenture are good companies – I used to be a consultant for a leading hospital systems company that Cerner bought in 2000. Accenture is good too. IBM and Epic – I don’t care for IBM personally, but doable in this case perhaps. PWH and Google – if PWH can put the kabosh on the liberal practices of google flinging around our information like it’s rice at a wedding, that would be good too Controls have to be strictly met – esp if info is kept in clouds.
    Also, from what I experienced in the industry, It doesn’t matter who could get the job done the cheapest. It matters who could do the job to make it work correctly, with safegards, and make it affordable to run yearly without costing a fortune to use over the years. But we are talking about the VA here making decisions with their management who are not the best people to make decisions. The MIS division of the VA has had many people leave at the high capacity and I understand it is run by idiots and people without savvy experience, as so typical. It always comes down to the stupid VA who don’t know shit about anything – from building medical centers in Aurora, CO to picking a multi-company team to get the contract, and after the contract is theirs, to lay on cost overruns to the moon.

  13. BAD IDEA! I have never been a member of Facebook for very similar reasons…let me touch on that: one of my best friends, a Veteran, had finally won his 100% P&T Svc. Connected Disability after 5 years of fighting because the damn VA kept minimizing his PTSD and his other demons haunting him. He received his back pay and he was an avid Facebook user. Then 6 months later, his VA Psych. told him in matter of words that since he USES Facebook, then he *could not possibly* have PTSD and those notes went far enough to other ignorant people and next thing you know, they ripped his VA Disability away claiming his was a “malingerer” and GUESS WHAT? My best friend killed himself within a month, as I unfortunately was one whom found his lifeless body.
    [I had even mentioned this in a message back then to Ben via email or one of the article topix back then BEFORE my buddy had even killed himself and remember Ben stating (paraphrasing here), something along lines that he knew an attorney that would have a field day with such VA Psych ignorance regarding Facebook and PTSD.]

    ^With THAT ugliness that I am still not quite over on the table, what’s to say that a huge data mining corp. such as GO Ogle will not simply use our “social media behaviors” we Disabled Veteran’s and Veterans whom are trying to make a claim totally against us? Justified or not, equating -1- Veteran’s Facebook behavior and social media enjoyment (but not so much an in-person guy…my now dead friend), what’s to say if Google wins this and the VA uses our very behaviors to more effectively deny, lie, and effectively kill more Veterans?

    I never liked idea of Facebook when it first was announced and everyone was willing to just hand over all their info then and still do. Perhaps this also comes from my training during all those “Cold War Days” in the military, where information and secrecy was paramount?! Now you have the main stream media announcing what we are doing and where and when on evening news, it’s become so loose as far as all our national security and personal information. Can you imagine an all-out attack to finally end terrorism that was of the likes and size of Normandy without everyone knowing about it AS IT HAPPENS, including the damn terrorists we are supposedly attacking…keeping secrets seems to be last thing on people’s minds these days and OUR MEDICAL RECORDS and the VA should not become bedfellows with a company like GO ogle, whom already has been given carte blanch by the CIA?

    This is a terrible idea. Essentially, Google would be able to freely report directly to the VA those that participated in excellent websites such as this by just your IP address linked to your email to post here…and they may already do that for all we know but I for one do not want to hear of another shitty VA Psych Dr. penalizing ANY Veteran for using Facebook or ANY social media out of ignorance and some “think tank” somewhere that can freely dream up of new IMPROVED ways to phuck we Veterans.

    This message is dedicated to Robert, may you only rest in peace after haunting the hell out of the shitty Dr.’s you had! Peace!

    • Sorry to hear about your friend, “Robert”. Don`t worry that so-called “head doc” will have to answer to a higher source of real power soon. Most veterans have no idea, what real freedom is…

    • To clarify: My buddy Robert *definitely* had PTSD. That VA Psych simply changed his diagnosis to “ADJUSTMENT DISORDER”, and brought his 100% down to 20% for his physical injuries BUT the VA was starting to demand *their back pay BACK* and imagine they indeed got it back by *other means*…if I were fully aware of the stress he was dealing with internally, I would have at the time, asked him to move-in with me so he would not have been worrying about being *HOMELESS AGAIN*. So, those initials “P&T” are rather loosely adhered to by the VA…and same goes for the dreaded “Adjustment Disorder” used in it’s stead of PTSD to get out of paying benefits.

      I see GO ogle or ANY large entity such as they, as a very risk of National Security as well because most of us have held varying tiers of Security Clearances. This idea would be just as bad as if say the DoD and Strategic Air Command were to entirely NETWORK all our higher echelon of weapons, rather than keeping them as they remain, NOT Networked, for fear of something along the SciFi lines of “Terminator” and “SkyNet”…not to mention that do you REALLY THINK the VA and GO ogle will abide by the HIPPA Act?

      Note: I do NOT have a fear of nor reluctance to use ANY new technology. However, I DO have a huge problem of heading exactly where George Orwell was trying to warn us about back in 1948 when he wrote “1984”.
      GO ogle would be “Big Brother” in this case and the VA would be “Big Brother’s Dysfunctional Brother”….BAD, BAD idea!

      Does anyone think that the new Republican held Senate & House will require GO ogle contractors to be sworn-in before them to tell the truth when called before them while contracted to the VA, whom NEVER has to swear ANY such oath?

      If you already have misgivings of trust towards the VA, or even are on the fence about it, add GO ogle into the mix…how about now?

  14. Great! Google can now sell your VA information to the Russian underground and all of the local early release convicts in your neighborhood (now passing one out of five people in California.).

  15. This is just more of Privatizing of Government for the Benefit of those Shareholders in Corporations that are International Entities. There would be no way your Privacy will not be affected. Look at BOOZ ALLEN of NSA fame that let Snowden steal everything in a few days.

  16. OMG! I just realized something with my medication-induced dyslexia, that if you look at the name, GEORGE ORWELL…you can take letters from it without using one of them twice, and spell GOOGLE, -coincidence?!

    Today’s announcement of the *massive* HACK of Anthem/Blue Cross, 80 Million people’s identity affected, imagine if our very adversaries were to hack Google or whomever the VA contracts, or anyone really, why would we think the VA is going to have state of the art security measures to counter cyber attacks?

    Say it again, BAD IDEA.

  17. May be fixed. But who done it? 2/7/2017

    I made several calls this AM to VA phone numbers. Not a single wait time on calls.

    The lady (Patricia I think) at the Office of Communication in the Central Office was very helpful. And surprisingly, I had no wait time on calls to 800 827 1000 or the OIG 800 488 8244. (transferred from OIG)

    I will now look through all documents with references to other documents and make sure I have the referenced document in my file. Didn’t think to do that as a means of writing FOIA letters for specific documents.

    She said it will take 30 days to get the specific documents I ask for, a far cry from the 2019 date on eBenefits FOIA claim date that was closed when they sent me an update but not the specific documents I was seeking.

    That is a very quick change. Plus, the operators were very responsive even though I started a little up tight over having my FOIA closed without completion. They were great in handling me and kept me from getting angrier. Very different than a year ago, while McDonald still had the helm. And to think, I was OK with him still hanging on because of the progress made here locally. But this is a certain change of focus that has flowed down hill from the Central Office after the naming of Shulkin. Still not ready to run up the victory flag but much more hopeful.

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