Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne (right) is escorted into Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms by hospital commanding officer, Navy Capt. Nadji Hariri, for a site visit on the launch of MHS GENESIS, the military's new electronic record-keeping system, April 17. (U.S. Navy photo by Dave Marks)
Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne (right) is escorted into Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms by hospital commanding officer, Navy Capt. Nadji Hariri, for a site visit on the launch of MHS GENESIS, the military's new electronic record-keeping system, April 17. (U.S. Navy photo by Dave Marks)

New electronic health record integrates all aspects of care

by Dave Marks
NHTP PAO Public Affairs

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Two basic rules of life are: 1. Change is inevitable. 2. Everybody resists change. That’s according to business management guru, E. Edwards Deming.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne and his team of military healthcare professionals visited Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms April 17 to brief the command on the launch of the new electronic health record, MHS GENESIS, which replaces the stand-alone legacy systems (CHCS, ESSENTRIS, AHLTA) and integrates all aspects of care in the military health system into one seamless portal. It connects the provider to the patient and offers a host of user-friendly features from messaging to prescription refills.

Payne, an emergency-department physician with nearly 32 years in the Air Force, is the MHS GENESIS health-record functional champion, reporting directly to Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, Director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA).

Payne recalled that back to 2006 he was the commander at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, California, and was charged with implementing AHLTA, a legacy electronic health record. “People were not happy,” he said. “People didn’t like change and some were actually quitting. So, when they tell me they love AHLTA and they love ESSENTRIS, what they’re saying is, they don’t like change.”

“The earlier systems served us well,” Payne said, but they are outdated in terms of security, safety and accessibility. “What we hope to do better this time is to help you understand why we’re making this change and do a better job of helping you make the change.”

Access to your medical information from anywhere on the planet is one clear advantage of MHS GENESIS. “In the legacy systems, medical information is stored on local servers. Medical treatment facilities don’t have access to each other’s information; and the VA is the same. With MHS GENESIS, medical information is stored in the cloud. All of the data is in one place, yet we can access it from anywhere in the world,” Payne said.

“It has an incredible capability on an accounting level to document procedures,” Payne said. "If Corpsman X inserts an IV or performs a particular procedure, we can pull that encounter out of the system. We can’t do that with the current legacy systems."

“It’s not about saving money, it’s basically to improve care. To help us get to a more standardized approach across the whole military health system and reduce unwanted variability. We’ll see some areas where the system allows us to have more efficiencies. Overall, it’s not about reducing manpower, it’s about delivering better healthcare – from military entry all of the way to the VA.”

Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms commanding officer, Navy Capt. Nadji Hariri, said Payne’s visit was both enlightening and productive. "It was highly advantageous for me and my staff to get this perspective on the way forward and to get an appreciation for the enhanced capabilities of the new system.”

Payne said it was very helpful visiting the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.

“You can feel the necessity to support the operational mission. It’s very helpful for me to be able to come here and see the Marines on this base. I see it as an overarching transformation in the military health system to support readiness,” Payne said.

The MHS GENESIS system is being deployed in “waves” depending on geography and infrastructure. It was initially deployed in the Pacific Northwest in 2017 as a test run for initial operational capability. Initial bugs and operational discrepancies were identified and corrected. The system will continue to be deployed throughout the Defense Health Agency between now and 2024.

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