Improving the Health, Safety, and Longevity of the Warfighter

By moving all military treatment facilities under the Defense Health Agency (DHA), the DoD has ushered in a new era of data integration within the military health system.
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The U.S. Military Health System, serving more than 9.5 million beneficiaries worldwide, including active duty service members, veterans, and military family members, is undergoing a period of unprecedented transformation.

As announced in October 2018, the Department of Defense will be ushering in remarkable changes to the way it does business, as well as how it will ensure the health, safety, and longevity of the modern warfighter both during active duty service and long after. Jennifer Pereira, a Senior Client Executive with Northrop Grumman, said the decision to move the administration and management of all military treatment facilities, regardless of branch, to the auspices of the Defense Health Agency (DHA), was a “long time coming.”

“Since 1999, there has been a push for integration across military health from both sides of the aisle, as well as the military itself,” she said. “But there are many challenges involved with this move. You need to find a way to build trust and rapport and ensure that each service member receives the same level of service no matter where he or she goes for care. That means finding ways to reduce duplicative services and contracts. It also requires a lot of communication and coordination.”

As one of its first acts, the DHA mandated a single electronic health record (EHR) platform, MHS GENESIS, to replace all existing systems, which is a great first step, according to Pereira. But, to meet the mission to provide the highest quality care, whether a service member is in theater, in garrison, or transitioning to the Veterans Administration, DHA will have to strike an effective balance between traditional military healthcare and civilian best practices.

“DHA is looking to revolutionize military medicine,” she explained. “Military medicine, traditionally, has been very different than civilian healthcare. Similarities exist between the two — but there are aspects that are unique to the military. Moving forward, to provide the highest quality care not only to service members but also to veterans and dependents, we need to understand the requirements associated with traditional military medicine while integrating industry best practices from the consumer side to improve the patient experience and implement more preventative practices.”

That’s why, Pereira argued, it’s so important that military treatment facilities work closely with vendor partners that understand both military and civilian medicine and can find ways to blend the two to improve appointment wait times, increase reminders, better utilize military clinicians, help command teams gain a clear picture of force readiness, and, most importantly, provide the highest quality patient care to all military health beneficiaries.

“Moving forward, having a medical record that can follow a warfighter throughout his or her career — even into retirement — will be critical,” she said. “There are a lot of moving parts to getting to this point. And just as the different service branches are learning how to work together under the DHA, as well as how to best transform into a combat support agency, having full transparency and communication among all parties really will be vital to the effort.”

To learn more about how Northrop Grumman is defining what’s possible to help better support the health, safety, and longevity of the modern Soldier, Sailor, Marine, and Airman, visit Northrop Grumman Military Health.

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