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DOD's Next-Gen Electronic Health Records System Is Now Live At One Site

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A small piece of a years-long effort to revamp military health records is finally live, after a new IT system was deployed last week at an Air Force base in Spokane, Washington.

The electronic health record platform, Military Health System GENESIS, or MHS GENESIS, is now in use at the Fairchild Air Force base. The Defense Department plans to observe how it functions at that site first before installing it at other sites in the Pacific Northwest—possibly as soon as June.

The new system is intended to let patient records flow seamlessly between health care providers covering military beneficiaries and to allow patients to view their own records and test results online. Interoperability with both Veterans Affairs Department, as well as private health care providers, are also key goals.

For now, providers can use MHS GENESIS to track down records for patients at other sites, even if those sites haven’t yet upgraded, by using a “legacy viewer” feature, officials told reporters Wednesday.

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At Fairchild, MHS GENESIS replaces the existing patient care online portals RelayHealth and MiCare.

Eventually, MHS Genesis will house the records for more than 9.4 million DOD beneficiaries and the Defense Healthcare Management Systems office is aiming for total deployment by 2022, Program Executive Officer Stacy Cummings said.

The initial deployment is part of a larger contract, under the office of the DOD Healthcare Management System Modernization. In 2015 the Pentagon awarded the $4.3 billion project, intended to revamp medical records across the department, to Leidos, Cerner and Accenture.

In its first week, MHS GENESIS encountered a few minor challenges, including the need to retrain employees to use the new interface, Col. Margaret Carey, commander at the 92nd Medical Group at Fairchild, told reporters. Though user training began in September, some users had since forgotten how to navigate to certain features, such as the scheduler. In future sites, the team may move the training closer to deployment.

Ideally, the online system would let disparate health care providers work together on one patient, Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger told reporters. Providers could aggregate input about an individual from nutritionists, disease management specialists and others to provide holistic treatment.

The Pentagon started its EHR effort by deploying the system in the Pacific Northwest because patients from across the services are represented, Cummings said.

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