The Department of Health and Human Services has signed an agreement worth $169 million with Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications, to support the network infrastructure that the department will depend on as it expands its role under the new healthcare reform law.
Under the terms of the agreement, announced Tuesday, Verizon Business will manage and secure the agency's Internet protocol (IP) and data networks, which provide an essential and reliable platform for day-to-day operations, whether it's processing Medicare claims or providing healthcare on tribal lands via telemedicine.
"Recent changes in federal law are expanding the mission of the Health and Human Services Department, and the agency needs a network it can depend on," Susan Zeleniak, Verizon federal group president, said in a statement. "The department has a long history of turning to technology to make government run more efficiently, and we're looking forward to working with Health and Human Services as it moves into the next era of public health."
As the department prepares to improve its network capabilities, Verizon Business will provide an array of security feature such as managed firewalls and intrusion detection, as well as a virtual private network that enables the agency's employees to securely gain remote access to information and collaborate more effectively via voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), web, and videoconferencing.
The new award, made under the U.S. General Services Administration's Networx Universal contract, further extends Verizon's longstanding relationship with the department. Verizon Business had been providing many of the services under GSA's Federal Telecommunications Service 2001 (FTS2001) contract, the predecessor to the Networx program.
Other contracts awarded recently also highlight the transformation that is taking place as HHS invests in its technology infrastructure to reflect changes brought about by healthcare reform.
For example, in May Northrop Grumman was awarded a $34 million contract to accelerate the development of electronic health records for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Northrop Grumman will develop, design, and maintain a national data repository that will support the administration and incentive payment disbursements of Medicare and Medicaid programs to medical professionals, hospitals, and other organizations.
In August, Lockheed Martin won two contracts worth $9 million to help the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) advance digital health records and secure health information exchanges. Also in August, CMS awarded Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services a contract worth up to $200 million to provide application services that improve Medicare Part B claims processing, as well as the delivery of healthcare services to beneficiaries.