Pentagon rolls out new electronic records system


By Amy Bushatz, Military.com and Spousebuzz.com

A new medical records program to be used across military hospitals by 2022 will allow patients to view their doctors’ notes and lab results online, Tricare officials said Wednesday.

The program, known as “MHS Genesis,” rolled out Feb. 7 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, and will be used at three other Washington State bases this year: Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, officials said.

“From our perspective … the system that we have is streamlined, it’s intuitive and it makes it much easier for the provider to get through the notes,” Col. Margaret Carey, commander of the 92nd Medical Group at Fairchild, said during a call with reporters. “We’re very excited for patients becoming partners in their health care.”

Currently, the military health system uses a program known as “AHLTA,” implemented in 2004. To communicate with patients, providers can use Tricare Online as well as the RelayHealth system, depending on the information they want to share. Not every provider uses both systems, and logging into them can be cumbersome and complicated for patients.

MHS Genesis, however, provides an integrated medical and dental health care record for all military health care providers, officials said. Records stored in it can be shared with civilian providers who subscribe to the eHealth Exchange network. And patients will be able to access lab results, messages from their doctors and any health records doctors choose to share through Tricare Online only, rather than visiting multiple systems, officials said.

“This electronic health record is really built to enable a team approach to providing health care to patients,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger, Air Force surgeon general. “It goes well beyond just the typical doctor-patient interaction.”

Ediger said the Air Force will use the Genesis system in a health coaching pilot program also running at Fairchild. Through it, coaches will be able to interact with patients on goals such as quitting smoking and losing weight between doctor visits.

“This tool is really built for that,” he said. “It’s a very collaborative tool that allows the team to work together.”

The four Washington State bases were chosen for the initial Genesis rollout because they represent different military services and hospital sizes. While Naval Hospital Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island is small, for example, Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint-Base Lewis McChord is one the Army’s largest.

Medical staff at Fairchild have been training on the new system since September, Carey said, with experts available to help with the rollout. That differs widely from the 2004 implementation of AHLTA, which did not include training, she said.

“That is something that is absolutely awesome with this new system that we did not have previously,” she said. “It was all over-the-shoulder or on-the-job training, and you learned what the person next to you thought was the right way.”

Officials did not say specifically which bases would receive Genesis after the four Washington State locations.

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