DOD health record system still faces cyber, training issues

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The annual report from the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation at the Department of Defense finds some improvement but ongoing issues with MHS Genesis.

According to an annual oversight report, the Pentagon's new electronic health records system, MHS Genesis, is "not yet survivable in a cyber‑contested environment." 

The report from the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), released Jan. 27 in a new format that scrubs "controlled unclassified information" for the first time, revealed that despite improvements, MHS Genesis continues to have issues dogging the rollout of the new system.

This is not the first time that the system was hit with the "not survivable" tag in a DOT&E evaluation.

The Defense Health Agency, which oversees MHS Genesis, launched a change management initiative in 2021 called "Pay it Forward," under which new users of the system would receive support from experienced hands when the software, based on the commercial Cerner electronic health record, is deployed. The summary of the DOT&E report said this initiative "proved successful" but "was not available to many users during fielding."

Meanwhile, training continues to be "an area of major concern" per the DOT&E report, which stated that it was rated poor by 72% of respondents in a survey. "Current computer-based training remains ineffective, while a new training initiative that allows users to get hands-on practice in a mock environment demonstrated improvements."

The DOT&E testing took place in February and March of 2021, and the report may lag behind the pace of improvement in MHS Genesis.

A spokesperson for DHA told FCW that DOT&E observations and feedback "help to improve our processes and ensure continued success with our deployment." 

At last count, more than 50% of the Military Heath System is operating on MHS Genesis, including a recent wave in facilities in San Antonio, Texas, that reached 22,000 users.