When Google and PricewaterhouseCoopers announced a business partnership last October, they described the move as an effort to jointly compete for large projects leveraging PwC's consulting experience and Google's Cloud Platform technologies.
Last week, the two companies followed through on that announcement with PwC including Google in a team that is bidding for a massive $11 billion health system modernization effort at the U.S. Department of Defense.
If PwC secures the contract, Google will be part of a group of vendors that will assist PwC with building a Defense Operational Readiness Health System (DORHS) that the consulting giant says meets the DoD's goals of modernizing its health system.
At the core of the proposed system is open source software from the Open Source Electronic Health Record Alliance that PwC says will offer a cost-efficient, highly interoperable EHR system that will also prevent the DoD from being locked into a single vendor.
With the announcement, Google joins a team that includes General Dynamics, Medsphere Systems Corporation, MedicaSoft and DSS, Inc. that are all part of PwC's bid for the DoD project. "Google is known for its expertise in innovative, secure and open technologies, and the power of Internet scale," said Scott McIntyre, PwC's Global and U.S. Public Sector Leader in a statement. Google's cloud technology-set and capabilities complements PwCs proposed open architecture EHR system, McIntyre said.
"Google can assist us in delivering a cost-effective and efficient solution to serve the healthcare needs of our military," he said.
The DoD's Healthcare Management Systems Modernization effort is designed to replace its existing Military Health System (MHS), a complex healthcare delivery network that presently supports close to 10 million people, including both active duty and retired military personnel.
Among other things, the effort will allow the DoD to replace several legacy systems including its Composite Health Care System for inpatients, its Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application and almost all of its Theater Medical Information Program. The new system will also put in a place an infrastructure for sharing healthcare data with the Department of Veterans Affairs and with private healthcare providers as well. The DoD's stated goal is to put the system in place by the end of 2016.
The PwC team that Google is part of is one of several groups that are vying for the DoD project, which some consider to be among the biggest IT contracts ever. The department began accepting bids for the contract last August. At that time, program executive officer Christopher Miller had described it as an effort that will result in sustained improvements in patient safety and quality of healthcare.
"We are not just buying an off-the-shelf system, we're really looking to modernize how the department delivers health care," Miller had noted in a statement announcing the request for proposals.
Apart from PwC, others who have bid for the project include IBM along with EHR vendor Epic, Computer Sciences Corp. along with Hewlett Packard Co. and Allscripts and a team comprised of Cerner, Accenture Federal and Leidos.
For Google, the project will give it an opportunity to expand its footprint significantly with the DoD environment. The company secured a significant win in 2013 when the U.S. Army awarded it a contract to roll out Google Apps to an estimated 50,000 Army and DoD personnel as part of an effort to improve information sharing and collaboration between the two groups.