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DoD Makes Important Health Information Exchange Move in WA

DoD paves the way for its nationwide GENESIS EHR implementation with work with an HIE partnership in Washington State.

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

In advance of the rollout of its new enterprise EHR platform nationwide, the Department of Defense has entered into a partnership with Medical Information Network – North Sound (MIN-NS) to develop a health information exchange portal for military providers that are the first adopters of the MHS GENESIS EHR system in Washington State.

Health information exchange at DoD

“Time and again, it's been proven that when patient data is readily accessible by the clinician, at the point of care, then the clinician will be able to make better, more well-informed decisions for the patient,” said MIN-NS CEO Mark Quenneville in a statement Thursday. “As many of our service men and women are deployed around the globe these days. MIN-NS provides a bridge that enable the patient's care record to virtually follow any member of the armed forces, and contractors, from their home base to any deployed location around the globe."

According to the announcement of the partnership, MIN-HS will “provide portal access to military providers now with integration into their new EHR to follow” — that access being to “common community source of patient data.”

A spokesperson for the HIE confirmed that patient data from the Military Health System will not reside in the network. Rather, military clinicians will have access to the HIE from within their new commercial EHR technology to coordinate appropriate treatment for patients receiving care outside of the Military Health System.

“One connection to MIN-NS gives DoD providers located locally, regionally or internationally seamless, secure access to care records from multiple civilian healthcare providers on many different record systems,” Thursday’s statement read.

The HIE located an hour north of Seattle already connects 25 area hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and laboratories in northwestern Washington.  Additionally, the network itself is a participating member of the eHealth Exchange, the nationwide network of exchanges that connects all 50 states, four federal agencies (including DoD), and tens of thousands hospitals, medical groups, and other clinical settings.

In September, The Program Executive Office Defense Healthcare Management Systems announced plans to modify the EHR implementation schedule for the GENESIS EHR, the end-result of the DoD Healthcare Management System Modernization (DHMSM) project.

“We collaborated closely with our vendor, the Leidos Partnership for Defense Health, to make the best overall decision for the successful deployment of MHS GENESIS," said Stacy Cummings, Program Executive Officer, PEO DHMS. "We have a responsibility to our customers to ensure that all required test procedures and processes are completed in an orderly manner. During the testing of the system, we identified the need for more time before initial deployment to ensure we are providing the best possible user experience to our beneficiaries and healthcare providers."

An aggressive EHR implementation schedule coupled with issues raised during testing were the primary causes behind the EHR modernization delay at DoD.

The following month, Jared Serbu of Federal News Radio reported that the GENESIS EHR rollout was expected to begin in February 2017.

“DoD had planned to demonstrate initial operational capability of the system, known as MHS Genesis, in December at four Pacific Northwest hospitals,” he wrote. “The EHR is now set to go live at just one facility, Fairchild Air Force Base, in February. The other three Washington State hospitals that had been picked as early test sites won’t get it until June 2017 at the earliest. The plan for full, worldwide deployment remains unchanged: that will take until 2022.”

The four Pacific Northwest sites were: Oak Harbor Naval Hospital, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Naval Hospital Bremerton.

The multi-year health data exchange partnership between DoD and MIN-NS is clearly part of this initial demonstration of EHR operational capabilities.

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