The Department of Defense has successful deployed MHS GENESIS—its new Cerner electronic health record system—at Naval Hospital Oak Harbor in Washington State, as part of an initial operating capability phase for the EHR.

The DoD site is the second military facility in the Pacific Northwest to begin using the EHR, which the Pentagon contends will transform the delivery of healthcare and advance data sharing by replacing the military’s legacy Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA) with a commercial, state-of-the-art system.

In February, the Cerner Millennium system was installed at Fairchild Air Force Base, near Spokane, Wash., the first site of the DoD’s initial rollout.

Also See: DoD rolls out deployment of Cerner EHR system to Fairchild AFB

Fairchild AFB and Naval Hospital Oak Harbor are two of four sites in the Pacific Northwest that will implement the Cerner system this year, with full deployment of the EHR slated to be completed in 2022. It ultimately will support more than 9 million DoD beneficiaries worldwide.

Later this year, Naval Hospital Bremerton and Madigan Army Medical Center—also located in the Pacific Northwest—are slated to go live with the system.

“We’re going from smaller facilities to larger medical centers,” says David Norley, communications director for the Defense Healthcare Management Systems. “At each one, we go up in complexity and in the amount of beneficiaries they serve.”

According to Norley, clinicians at Naval Hospital Oak Harbor are currently treating patients via the Cerner system. The hospital, which is located on Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, provides maternity care, surgery and blood transfusion management, among other medical services.

“At Oak Harbor, there is an inpatient capability in that it has a full obstetrics center that delivers babies, and there’s also minor surgery performed there as well as blood transfusions and tracking,” adds Norley. “Those are some of the services that Fairchild did not have.”

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.

According to Travis Dalton, Cerner’s federal general manager, the Oak Harbor system implementation marks a significant milestone, with the inpatient components of MHS GENESIS now officially deployed. Dalton notes that several of the system’s applications and capabilities will improve patient safety and clinical efficiency at the naval hospital—which have been deployed for the first time—including:

  • A single, integrated EHR across ambulatory, acute and all other services at Oak Harbor
  • Medical device interoperability through Cerner’s CareAware connectivity platform, ensuring that medical device data is seamlessly integrating with MHS GENESIS
  • Clinical decision-support capabilities
  • Advanced specialty provider workflows and embedded clinical calculators
  • Administration of barcoded medication
  • Labor and maternity-specific module designed to establish a new infant record with barcode scanning, as well as treatment plans tailored to mother and child

“At its core, MHS GENESIS is the same commercially available, off-the-shelf electronic medical record that is deployed at thousands of facilities worldwide, operating on one code set,” adds Dalton. “Ultimately, this creates an integrated and longitudinal patient record and coordination across the continuum of care, regardless of environment, scope and size of military and dental treatment facilities.”

He also emphasizes that system’s ability to integrate and share interoperable patient information with the Department of Veterans Affairs and civilian health systems is “critical and is inherently built into MHS GENISIS.”

Last month, 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.

In response, several U.S. senators late last month sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and VA Secretary David Shulkin, urging the two departments to work closely and to look for opportunities for their respective staffs to collaborate, particularly, in sharing with the VA some of DoD’s best practices and lessons learned from implementing its Cerner EHR.

“I am very familiar with the letter from the senators, and we are certainly working with the VA,” concludes Norley. “Every week, several times a week, we get together and talk about where they’re going and how we can help them.”

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