Medical ADP Systems:

Composite Health Care System--Defense Faces a Difficult Task

IMTEC-90-42: Published: Mar 15, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 1990.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO assessed the Department of Defense's (DOD) plans for operational testing and evaluation of its Composite Health Care System (CHCS), intended to improve the timeliness, availability, and quality of patient care data at 767 DOD medical treatment facilities.

GAO found that, under its revised schedule for CHCS operational testing and evaluation, DOD: (1) extended its planned procurement and deployment date from September 1989 to October 1990; (2) compressed the testing schedule from 8 months to 4 to 6 months; (3) would not deploy 38 percent of system software to the test sites by October 1990, although some of the untested software involved some high-priority system capabilities; and (4) planned to implement and test CHCS at seven sites, including some small facilities and at least one large medical facility. GAO also found that: (1) the DOD estimate of the life-cycle costs for CHCS full deployment was $1.6 billion, $500 million more than the congressional ceiling; (2) DOD attributed the increase primarily to its decision to extend the CHCS life cycle by 5 years; (3) DOD estimated that the $740 million Congress allotted would be enough to deploy CHCS to only about half of the 767 medical facilities; (4) DOD estimated savings of more than $2 billion from CHCS through fiscal year 1997, assuming full deployment to all facilities; (5) DOD anticipated that it would achieve 95 percent of projected CHCS savings through reduced reliance on the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), since it projected that improved patient data would reduce unnecessary patient visits and allow military facilities to treat additional patients; and (6) weaknesses in the DOD benefits study raised questions about its ability to achieve the full extent of the projected CHAMPUS savings.

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