Military Health IT Modernization: What Lies Ahead – Part 1

Toné Mason, Senior Analyst

Health technology and health services continue to represent a significant part of DOD spending, requiring acquisition planning to keep pace.

The next wave of deployments for MHS GENESIS, the new electronic health record for the Military Health System (MHS), is slated to begin in 2020. By 2023, GENESIS will be deployed across all MHS. Meanwhile, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) is taking a closer look at acquisition vehicles and focus areas. With limited funding and enterprise contracts essentially status quo through 2020, agency executives are encouraging vendors to prepare now for 2021.

These were some of the takeaways from the recent 2019 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium in Orlando, Fla. Among the sessions, Tom McCaffery, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, discussed the future of the Military Health System.

MHS, McCaffery explained, is a $50+ billion per year military medical enterprise, with 51 hospitals, 424 medical clinics and 248 dental clinics worldwide. As a health benefits program, it covers 9.5 million lives, almost 800,000 network providers, with over 60% of care purchased from civilian sources. McCaffery estimated that MHS spends $1 of every $10 budgeted to the DOD each year.

The goal for the Military Health System, McCaffery said, is to provide both a “ready medical force” and a “medically ready force.” To accomplish this, MHS is optimizing both quality and safety and partners with academia, the private sector, federal agencies and partner nations.

The organization uses cutting-edge research and development to advance disease surveillance, vaccines and medical responses on battlefield, and leverages health IT to enhance patient care. As a result, the organization has achieved the highest battlefield survival rate in history, even while the severity of injuries has increased.

The linchpin of MHS’s success can easily be considered MHS GENESIS, which replaces dozens of legacy IT systems with one consolidated solution. An off-the-shelf, commercial enterprise-wide solution, Genesis provides access from the battlefield to the home front for the armed services’ highly mobile patient population.

GENESIS supports integrated healthcare delivery across the MHS, offering a patient access portal that allows patients greater ability to participate in their own care, as well as clinical decision support tools that provide higher diagnostic accuracy. GENESIS monitoring tools have improved safety, quality, experience of care and efficiency, and the system overall offers better data collection for health-related research.

According to McCaffery, MHS GENESIS deployment is a key enabler of integration, and a key tool to advance readiness and healthcare delivery. The system provides improved analytics and decision support while reducing costs, duplication, and variability. Leveraging partnerships with the VA and private sector, GENESIS is improving quality, safety and readiness.

But MHS GENESIS is not the only agency health reform initiative, McCaffery noted. Other work includes enterprise management of functional capabilities across the medical enterprise, deployment of one consolidated enterprise-wide electronic health record (EHR) and restructuring of the medical force to repurpose military medical authorizations for other military department priorities. Modernization of the TRICARE contract is also an important reform going forward, he said.

Look for my blog next month, where I will focus on the various acquisition approaches the Defense Health Agency is considering.


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About Toné Mason
Toné Mason is a Senior Analyst on immixGroup's Market Intelligence organization. She has a B.A. in Government and International Politics from George Mason University. Prior to joining, Toné was a Business Development Intelligence Analyst at Chenega Corporation and previously a Research Analyst at Deltek working on their GovWin product.

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