The Department of Defense has successful deployed MHS GENESIS—its new Cerner electronic health record system—at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., as part of the EHR’s initial operating capability phase.

Madigan is the fourth, final and largest military facility in the Pacific Northwest to go live during the IOC phase using the Cerner Millennium commercial platform. Earlier this year, DoD completed the installation of the EHR at Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor and Naval Hospital Bremerton.

David Norley, communications director for the Defense Healthcare Management Systems, says the initial implementations of MHS GENESIS have been successful.

With more than 100,000 DoD beneficiaries receiving care at the site, Madigan is the Army’s second largest medical hospital. Ultimately, the Pentagon plans on replacing the legacy Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, Composite Health Care System, and Essentris inpatient system with Cerner’s EHR, which is slated for deployment worldwide to support healthcare delivery for 9.4 million DoD beneficiaries.

Madigan Army Medical Center

Also See: DoD to maintain legacy EHR until new Cerner system is fully deployed

Norley emphasizes that the IOC phase is a chance for DoD to “learn what assumptions we made that have worked out and what assumptions we need to reassess,” noting that, “it’s all gone as we expected.”

At the same time, he acknowledges that “everything isn’t perfect” and “all those things that we would expect to find in an IOC-type of environment we have found,” adding that “it’s not surprising we’ve got to continue work on our DoD-specific interfaces—some of them, we’ve been spot on, and for some, we’ve made adjustments.”

The initial deployment of MHS GENESIS was slated for December 2016. But, DoD delayed the rollout until February 2017 to allow additional time to resolve technical issues, including finalizing system interfaces between Cerner’s software and legacy military health systems. However, Norley concludes that the Cerner software “that works in thousands of hospitals around the world will work at DoD facilities, too.”

Full deployment of DoD’s new EHR is slated for completion in 2022. However, before the Pentagon gets the green light to proceed, an independent assessment must evaluate the Cerner system to clear it for full operational capability.

“We are at the end of the IOC phase, and the independent test community will come in and evaluate the system and how it operates,” adds Norley. “They do a full test report. When the report is done, the system has had some time to operate, and a full assessment of the suitability and costs has been completed, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics will decide whether MHS GENESIS moves on to what we call a full deployment decision.”

According to Norley, that decision should occur in the late summer or early fall of 2018. “Provided that it’s a positive decision, we will continue fielding—and, our next wave of sites after IOC are down in southern California,” he says. “We have 23 different waves, and each of those waves is based on geographical regions. We started with IOC in the Pacific Northwest and will move down the West Coast. The biggest facility out there will be the Naval Medical Center San Diego near Balboa Park. Then, the waves will move west to east from there.”

In 2015, DoD awarded a $4.3 billion contract to prime contractor Leidos to modernize the military’s EHR system. The Leidos-led team includes consultancy Accenture, dental software vendor Henry Schein and Cerner, which provides the core Millennium capability.

In June, the VA announced that it plans to replace its decades-old legacy Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) with Cerner’s Millennium EHR, the same platform that DoD is currently implementing.

“Leidos is proud to support the Program Executive Office, Defense Healthcare Management Systems in its mission to transform the delivery of healthcare in the Military Health System and improve data sharing with other agencies, including Veterans Affairs, as well as private health institutions,” said Jon Scholl, president of Leidos Group. “We remain committed to excellence in fulfilling our customers’ mission in deploying an EHR system that provides enhanced, secure technology to ensure mission readiness.”

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