metamorworks -

Oklahoma Statewide HIE Denies Protest from Local Nonprofit HIE

The Oklahoma statewide HIE will move forward with Orion Health after denying a less expensive bid from a local nonprofit HIE.

The Oklahoma Purchasing Director, a state government leader, denied a protest from the Tulsa-based MyHealth Access Network, stating that the Oklahoma State Health Information Exchange will move forward with its chosen health IT vendor, according to Tulsa World.

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

MyHealth officials said the decision to partner with Orion Health, a global HIE vendor, could negatively impact healthcare across the state. The nonprofit recently set its bid to $19.9 million.

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.

Dan Sivard, the state’s purchasing director, denied the protest in an 11-page response 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,” wrote Sivard.

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.

“MyHealth and its Board disagree with the analysis and the conclusions reached in OMES’ protest response and we will continue to weigh our options on how best to move forward,” said David Kendrick, CEO of MyHealth. “In the meantime, we will continue to serve our patients, providers, and the Oklahoma health care community at-large.”

Leaders at MyHealth said OHCA did not consider its revised bid of $19.9 million. The nonprofit initially set its bid at $106.6 million, lowered the price to $41.7 million, and then lowered its final offer to $19.9 million.  

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

MyHealth claimed it was penalized for establishing fewer connections and transactions than Orion Health, even though the nonprofit solely operates within state boundaries.

Furthermore, leaders at MyHealth 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. MyHealth said OHCA “essentially ignored” these relationships.

Sivard confirmed OHCA did not consider the final offer of $19.9 million because it would have “completely tainted the competitive process.” Instead, it accepted the $41.7 million offer.

“These complaints are just the viewpoint and opinion of a vendor and serve as no authority to support the protest,” Sivard said. “The score sheet and evaluation is within the purview of the agency and the evaluators.”

This denial came after an outpouring of national and local support for MyHealth.

Last week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) penned 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.

The denial will ultimately dissolve the nonprofit HIE and force the statewide HIE to start from scratch.

“As we learned more about the Oklahoma HealthCare Authority’s new health information exchange strategy we grew concerned that its apparent effect would be to shut down MyHealth’s extraordinary work (through a state required use mandate) and start from scratch to build a new state-run HIE,” wrote Donald Rucker, MD, former national coordinator for health information technology. “We see the non-profit HIEs such as MyHealth as a central strategy for more accountable healthcare.”

Additionally, 13 major healthcare groups and businesses across the state, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State Medical Association, presented their disapproval by writing a letter to state officials last week.

The letter asked officials to “reconsider their current course and work to support Oklahoma’s successful statewide HIE, MyHealth.”

“If this change does occur, it will diminish the existing private sector HIE success, incur significant and unnecessary costs to taxpayers, and negatively impact the state’s HIE infrastructure, which could pose significant health and safety risks to patients,” according to the letter.

Next Steps

Dig Deeper on Interoperability in healthcare

Cloud Computing
Mobile Computing