•   over 7 years ago

Prototype of Production System?

We were initially excited to see this opportunity as we are very interested in and have experience in patient portal development. However, after reviewing the rules, as a developer, I have multiple concerns about this contest which I will bullet below:

Who owns the completed product? Is it the VA, developer, and/or the physician who has put the product in his/her EHR? How are licenses to be managed?
Why is the federal government forsaking their own Federal Acquisition  Rules (FAR) rules permitting this contest? This contest is requiring personal health data from private entities to transmit into a system that the government (VA) will access to import this personal data into the patient's VA EHR. By supporting the placement of non-vetted products into a government production system, this contest bypasses all government regulations for installing a COTS product.  In addition, there is no representation from the VA to guide product development.
Who will make sure the product meets all government security requirements for data (HIPAA, PI, PHI, HL7), as well as technology/network security (MPLS lines)?  How will user security managed? Will the VA fund the addition of this security? 
Who supports and maintains the product? Who is responsible for upgrades?  Who is financing this?
Who supports the Patient Call Center for the myriad of questions that will come in pertaining to IDs/Passwords/clinical data interpretation?
How can this be a one-size fits all product when there is no standardization of data dictionaries across EHRS, many of which are home-grown?  How can we know how to map data correctly?
Why is this a contest and not a RFP/RFI? It should be based on the complexity of security issues surrounding the tranmission of patient data.
Finally, why would any company give away their source code for the "possibility" of winning $50,000 when it costs much more than for development?

  • 2 comments

  • Moderator   •   over 7 years ago

    Joanne: 
     
    Good to see you’re excited about the opportunity and here’s hoping your experience in patient portal development makes you a viable contender in this contest.  Let me try to do justice to your questions. We’re going to group some of them a little differently to simplify the answers.
     
    Question:  Who owns the completed product? Is it the VA, developer, and/or the physician who has put the product in his/her EHR? How are licenses to be managed?
     
    Answer:  The developer owns the Blue Button-enabled PHR and offers that PHR to the physician market under terms of the developer’s choice. This includes intellectual property (IP) licenses which are arranged between the developer and physician.  The only additional requirement is that the winner of the competition will convey to VA a use license for the winning PHR.  See section 9 of the rules for official language on this subject.
     
    Question:  Why is the federal government forsaking their own Federal Acquisition Rules (FAR) permitting this contest? 
     
    Answer: This contest is not being conducted under the FAR, but instead under a new law, Section 105 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2011 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ358/pdf/PLAW-111publ358.pdf). 
     
    Question: This contest is requiring personal health data from private entities to transmit into a system that the government (VA) will access to import this personal data into the patient's VA EHR. By supporting the placement of non-vetted products into a government production system, this contest bypasses all government regulations for installing a COTS product. 
     
    Answer:  Might be some confusion here.  This contest isn’t looking for an app which will transmit any patient data to VA and there is no involvment of government IT systems in any way. We’re looking for Blue Button-enabled PHRs which doctors can sponsor on their own websites so their patients can access and download their own health data.  
     
    Question:  In addition, there is no representation from the VA to guide product development.
     
    Answer: We made a deliberate decision to be as hands-off as possible and unleash all the creative talents which you and your fellow developers can bring to the table – this competition is, after all, about innovation.   
     
    Question:  Who will make sure the product meets all government security requirements for data (HIPAA, PI, PHI, HL7), as well as technology/network security (MPLS lines)?  How will user security managed? Will the VA fund the addition of this security? Why is this a contest and not a RFP/RFI? It should be based on the complexity of security issues surrounding the transmission of patient data.
     
    Answer:  It’s the developer’s responsibility to make sure that the Blue Button-enabled PHR meets all HIPAA privacy and security requirements; see section 1(c)(v) of the rules.  If you choose to use protocols that have additional security requirements, you’ll need to meet those requirements, too, the same as any application you develop.
     
    A prize contest is very different from an RFP or other government contract. This is not an RFP because VA is not procuring anything here – except for the opportunity to use the winner’s ideas! We are also not funding development or any of the other work required to meet the objectives of the contest. We are offering an incentive (a $50,000 prize) for people or companies who would like to pursue the objectives we laid out.
     
    Question: Who supports and maintains the product? Who is responsible for upgrades? 
     
    Answer:  As a developer offering a product to the market, you will support and maintain it and offer upgrades to your customers as you think needed. 
     
    Question:  Who is financing this?
     
    Answer: The contest prize is being financed by VA as an incentive to those who wish to pursue the objectives we defined in the contest description.
     
    Question: Who supports the Patient Call Center for the myriad of questions that will come in pertaining to IDs/Passwords/clinical data interpretation?
     
    Answer:  We’re expecting that a well-developed Blue Button-enabled PHR will make it easy for sponsoring physicians and physician groups to support patient enrollment and password management – as existing PHRs do now. We also expect that interpretation of any clinical data is best handled between the physician and their patient.
     
    Question: How can this be a one-size fits all product when there is no standardization of data dictionaries across EHRS, many of which are home-grown?  How can we know how to map data correctly?
     
    Answer:  This is one of the advantages of using the VA Blue Button ASCII template: it’s simple and flexible enough to allow data to be kept in the PHR the same way the patient or physician enters it.
     
    Question: Finally, why would any company give away their source code for the "possibility" of winning $50,000 when it costs much more than for development?
     
    Answer:  Again, may be some confusion here.  The source code does not have to be given away; VA will receive a use license to use the winner’s ideas but the winner is free to sell or otherwise distribute the application on the open market to others.  We believe that there will be companies and individuals for whom it will be good business to compete in this contest.
     

  •   •   over 7 years ago

    Jim,
    Thanks for the answers. Just curious, if you know where the VA posts its RFPs or RFIs for similar projects? 
    Thanks,
    Jo Ann

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