Military Health System lays out five-year IT plan

By Peter Buxbaum
03:35 PM

For the first time in over a decade, the Military Health System last week finalized a strategic plan for information management and technology.

The five-year plan emphasizes collaboration among the armed services, Tricare the services' health plan organization, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the MHS chief information officer, and other Department of Defense health-related offices.

It is MHS's first formally adopted IM/IT plan since 1999, according to MHS CIO Chuck Campbell.

The plan places heavy emphasis on two goals: redesigning the MHS IT architecture and delivering a robust electronic health record.

"Our architecture must enable responsive and reliable solutions and rapid delivery of new capabilities," the plan states. "Our EHR needs to be intuitive, aggregate data for each patient over time and across providers, operate in all care settings, and allow sharing of information with our health partners."

MHS's IT architecture strategy, adopted in late 2008, revolves around adoption of a service oriented architecture (SOA), a business plan for introducing information management improvements in unison. The SOA would allow new software services to be more easily adopted by MHS and is also designed to hasten congressionally-mandated interoperability between DoD and Department of Veterans Affairs medical records systems.

The two departments are also under a presidential mandate to develop a joint virtual lifetime electronic record which would incorporate medical as well as other beneficiary records.

The strategic plan also includes two second-tier goals, dubbed the Personal Health Agenda and Enterprise Intelligence. "Our Personal Health Agenda will provide beneficiaries access to their own medical records, enable virtual visits, and allow them to complete online transactions such as appointing and medication refills," according to the plan. "Enterprise Intelligence will enable seamless sharing of knowledge and transfer of best practices, closing the gap between what we know and what we practice."

The plan also included goals for improved governance to "enable effective and efficient use of resources" and "get products to users faster."

"I see this plan as the road map that will guide the organization," said Campbell, "and I am excited about putting forth a strategy that commits key resources to critical initiatives."

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