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Local Nonprofit HIE Ends Battle Against Oklahoma Statewide HIE

The Oklahoma State Health Information Exchange will officially move forward with a global vendor for its health IT support.

MyHealth Access Network, a Tulsa-based nonprofit health information exchange (HIE), has withdrawn its Oklahoma State Health Information Network and Exchange (OKSHINE) vendor protest after a prolonged back-and-forth battle.

The MyHealth board of directors decided to end the protest before the July 13, 2021 hearing after the protest moved forward to an administrative law judge, the HIE explained.

Following the 13-month bidding process, OKSHINE publicized in December 2020 it officially contracted with Orion Health for health IT support. However, the local nonprofit HIE, MyHealth, bid roughly $30 million less than Orion Health, which resulted in a protest against OKSHINE.

Prior to withdrawing its appeal, leaders at MyHealth said OKSHINE’s decision to partner with the global vendor could negatively impact healthcare across the state. The nonprofit set its most recent bid to $19.9 million.

The MyHealth Board of Directors said it will now support Oklahoma’s goal of a statewide HIE to boost patient care and healthcare delivery in the state.

“The health of Oklahomans is too important and there is simply too much work to do for us to get bogged down any longer in legal proceedings,” David Kendrick, MD, CEO of MyHealth, said in a statement. “The work done by the hundreds of healthcare organizations participating in MyHealth over the past decade has saved lives and made our health care system more cost-effective.”

This reconciliation comes after a tumultuous back-and-forth between MyHealth and the state of Oklahoma.

Dan Sivard, the state’s purchasing director, denied the protest just a week after it was filed in an 11-page response. Sivard described the protest as “opinions of a losing vendor.”

“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 said at the time.

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

At the time of the protest, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) wrote a letter to Oklahoma state officials about the state choosing the global vendor over the “quite impressive” and “exemplar” Tulsa-based HIE that’s been around for over a decade.

Leaders at MyHealth previously said the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) did not consider its revised proposal of $19.9 million. The nonprofit initially set its bid at $106.6 million, lowered the price to $41.7 million, and then made its final offer of $19.9 million.  

However, two months after the nonprofit’s final offer, OHCA awarded the contract to Orion Health.

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

MyHealth leaders said it aims to work with OKSHINE, state lawmakers, and other healthcare stakeholders to improve interoperability and statewide connectivity.

“Our network – which is composed of the state’s largest health care providers, hospitals, and tribal health systems – has to play a role in ensuring OKSHINE builds on that progress and success,” Kendrick said. “That means working with the state on establishing a working platform, aiding in connectivity, and assisting with the establishment of governance that can ensure patient privacy and security.”

MyHealth initially claimed it was penalized for building fewer connections and transactions than Orion Health, which it said was misleading. MyHealth solely in Oklahoma ad doesn’t have a nationwide footprint, meaning it will naturally have fewer total connections than Orion Health. Furthermore, leaders at MyHealth said it established relationships within the Oklahoma border that Orion Health cannot replicate.

“Our mission is to have Oklahomans’ health information travel with them regardless of where they are being served,” Carter Kimble, director of OKSHINE, responded in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with MyHealth and working towards that common goal,” said Kimble. 

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