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Local Nonprofit HIE Appeals Oklahoma Statewide HIE Denial

The local nonprofit HIE has delivered an appeal to state officials after the Oklahoma statewide HIE denied its January protest.

MyHealth Access Network, a Tulsa-based nonprofit health information exchange, is appealing the Oklahoma Purchasing Director’s decision that the Oklahoma State Health Information Exchange (OKSHINE) will move forward with its chosen health IT vendor, according to a Tulsa World report.

Leaders at MyHealth Access Network said the state’s HIE contract with Orion Health was a flawed process from the start.

In December, OKSHINE announced it officially contracted with Orion Health for health IT support. However, MyHealth bid roughly $30 million less than Orion Health and as a result, leaders at MyHealth filed a protest against the statewide HIE.

Last month, the Oklahoma Purchasing Director, Dan Sivard, denied the protest from MyHealth.

According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), Orion Health signed a one-year deal with nine optional annual renewals, which could add up to a $49.8 million contract. State leaders expect federal dollars to cover 90 percent of the implementation costs and the state will cover the final 10 percent.

MyHealth initially offered a $41.7 million bid and then offered a final, unsolicited bid of $19.9 million.

Sivard wrote an 11-page denial and characterized the protest as “opinions of a losing vendor,” according to Tulsa World.

“While I respect some of the opinions relayed in your letter, I do not find them sufficient to sustain your protest of the contract award,” Sivard wrote in the letter.

He added that all bids were “carefully and equitably reviewed and evaluated” and added that MyHealth finished third behind Orion Health and an unnamed vendor.

Leaders at MyHealth said OHCA did not consider its revised bid of $19.9 million.

“OKSHINE is too important and too costly to be entrusted to anyone but the bidder most likely to deliver the best result at the best value,” an anonymous MyHealth attorney said to Tulsa World. “MyHealth urges a fresh review and reconsideration of each of the grounds for complaint stated in the Protest.”

MyHealth filed the appeal on Tuesday with Oklahoma Management and Enterprise Services (OMES).

According to Tulsa World, leaders at MyHealth acknowledged in its appeal that they were disappointed but they did not agree with Sivard’s “mere sour grapes” assessment of the situation. Furthermore, MyHealth said the state’s bid evaluations, its criteria, and its weighted criteria were all flawed and Sivard’s “superficial response” proved their accusation.

“But the disappointment is justified because MyHealth’s bid was $30 million less than the selected vendor (and is still $8.2 million less, if the State continues to waive its right to negotiate to obtain best value) and only MyHealth has the on-the-ground, existing resources, relationships and know-how necessary (to) make OKSHINE a timely success,” continued the attorney.

MyHealth claimed it was penalized for establishing fewer connections and transactions than Orion Health, even though the nonprofit solely operates within the Oklahoma state boundaries compared to Orion Health’s national operation.

Additionally, MyHealth leaders said it has established relationships within the state that Orion Health cannot replicate. MyHealth has exchange access to roughly 80 percent of all medical records in the state. The nonprofit said OHCA “essentially ignored” these relationships.

The state’s denial came after an outpouring of national and local support for MyHealth.

In January, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) wrote a letter to Oklahoma state officials about the state signing Orion Health over the “quite impressive” and “exemplar” Tulsa-based HIE that’s been around for over a decade.

If the denial stands, it will ultimately dissolve the nonprofit HIE and force the new statewide HIE to start from scratch.

OMES said there isn’t a set deadline for the response to the appeal, but they will attempt to make a timely decision.

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