DoD: EHR at new sites ‘running smooth’ 120 days after rollout

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The Department of Defense contends that its implementation in September of a new Cerner electronic health record system at four more military medical facilities has gone off without a hitch.

DoD says that 120 days after its rollout of the Cerner EHR system, called MHS GENESIS, it is “running smooth” at one site in Idaho—366th Medical Group at Mountain Home Air Force Base—and three sites in California—David Grant USAF Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, Naval Health Clinic Lemoore at Naval Air Station Lemoore, and U.S. Army Health Clinic Presidio of Monterey.

MHS GENESIS was first launched in 2017 at military medical facilities in the Pacific Northwest. However, the initial rollout of the Cerner Millennium platform to pilot sites was not without some major challenges.

The system was deemed “neither operationally effective nor operationally suitable,” according to a 2018 report from DoD’s director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E) that was based on an assessment of three of four pilot sites in Washington state.

However, on Wednesday, DoD announced that “following rigorous testing, training and change management efforts” the Wave Travis rollout to the four newest MHS GENESIS sites has been deemed a success.

“In 2019, we launched a new electronic health record across all Wave Travis sites with no serious patient safety issues,” William Tinston, program executive officer for the Program Executive Office Defense Health Care Management Systems, told members of the media.

“This deployment in Wave Travis was much smoother than what we saw in the (initial operational capability),” added Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, assistant director for combat support at the Defense Health Agency and MHS GENESIS functional champion.

According to Payne, the total number of “trouble tickets” or complaints and support requests generated from users during the Wave Travis rollout to the four newest MHS GENESIS sites was about a third of what DoD’s four initial operational capability sites experienced.

MHS GENESIS is being rolled out in “planned waves” and is on track for full deployment worldwide by the end of Calendar Year 2023, according to DoD officials, who said the next three installations—scheduled for 2020—will be at other military medical facilities in Alaska, California and Nevada.

In 2015, the Pentagon awarded a $4.3 billion contract to prime contractor Leidos to modernize the military’s EHR system, which is slated for deployment worldwide to support healthcare delivery for 9.4 million DoD beneficiaries. The Leidos-led team includes consultancy Accenture, dental software vendor Henry Schein and Cerner, which provides the core Millennium capability.

With the Wave Travis rollout to the four newest MHS GENESIS sites, Payne acknowledged that DoD experienced scalability challenges with Henry Schein’s Dentrix dental practice software. “We had some friction points with Dentrix, which the team was able to overcome and get it to function well,” he said. “But, we need to look into the future about Dentrix scalability.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to create a single common EHR system with DoD by leveraging a shared Cerner Millennium platform that enables the VA’s and DoD’s patient data to reside in one system, eliminating the manual and electronic exchange and reconciliation of data between two separate systems.

However, VA has decided not to use Henry Schein’s Dentrix solution as part of its EHR modernization initiative. The agency does not believe that the Henry Schein product is up to snuff when it comes to meeting its requirements.

Asked if the VA’s decision not to use Dentrix will impact interoperability with DoD, Tinston replied that regardless of what dental software capability the VA adopts “we don’t have an interoperability problem” because it will be “integrated into the common record” and “we’re sharing across the two departments.”

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