Why Cerner? Reflecting on DoD’s EHR Decision & The Role of Cyber-Security

There’s a big to-do being made about the Department of Defense (DoD) contracting their massive EHR investment to Cerner vs. the Epic EHR. The perplexity surrounding the decision has been buzzing around my email, social media, and at the office watering hole. Why though?

Essentially, Cerner and Epic go toe-to-toe on a lot of functionality, bandwidth, customization, etc., but when it comes down to it, we all have a list of things to check off, and for the DoD, Cerner made the cut. As industry insiders waited with batted breath, Kendall Miller, DoD undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, alongside Jonathan Woodson, MD, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, called out specifically why they gave the rose to Cerner during a pre-announcement conference call.

On the list, Miller cited: minimal system modification, system training capabilities, and interoperability—no surprises there, as a highly-customized system is not only difficult to build, but hard to train, and interoperability is the next step in healthcare’s evolution. Cyber-security though, that’s the big one, especially for the DoD (Department of Defense, if you forgot).

As the arm of the federal government that supports our home and international defenses, naturally, cyber- security is of paramount importance, especially considering the recent breaches experienced by the industry, such as the recent UCLA Health System attack where hackers got their hands on the data of 4.5M patients. A breach of that magnitude, or worse, would be more than a blemish on the DoD and rest of the Federal government, it could jeopardize the safety of the country and troops on foreign soil.

The DoD put Cerner’s system (and other RFP competitors) through the ringer to ensure their data would be their own, having Cerner scan its software for any vulnerabilities and provide a full report back to Cerner. “Cyber-security risk is something we take very seriously,” said Miller. While both DoD representatives said their list of deal-makers was not in any specific order, cyber-security was certainly in the top.

As cyber-security persists as a growing threat across all industries, especially in healthcare, it is becoming a forethought rather than an afterthought. Learn more about how the industry is being impacted by cyber-threats, and learn how to protect your organization by exploring our Cyber-Security Knowledge Center.

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