355th MDG implements new military health system

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U. S. Air Force Capt. Kristina Linden, 355th Mental Health Clinic Social Worker, works on a task during Military Health System Genesis training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, April 7, 2021. MHS GENESIS is a new electronic health record system being implemented at the 355th MDG, the U.S. Air Force, and the Department of Defense in order to provide a reliable database to access patient information whenever care is provided. (U. S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Blake Gonzales)
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In order for the 355th Medical Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., to accomplish its mission, it needs the best tools and systems available to ensure patients get the care and services they need.

The 355th Medical Group is implementing a larger system that will greatly enhance its ability to provide healthy combat forces and trusted healthcare to the Desert Lightning Team.

That change is Military Health System GENESIS, a new electronic health record system going live on April 24, 2021, that combines the two legacy systems currently used by the U. S. Air Force. This modernized system is being implemented across the Department of Defense and enables a more streamlined care experience for patients. It also provides the 355th MDG’s Desert Medics with a reliable database to access patient information whenever and wherever care is provided.

Airman 1st Class Jenna Slaughter, 355th Mental Health technician, works on a task during Military Health System GENESIS training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, April 7, 2021. The 355th Medical Group is implementing MHS GENESIS in order to enhance its ability to provide healthy combat forces and trusted healthcare to the Desert Lighting Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Blake Gonzales)

“The process to implement MHS GENESIS has been on-going since 2019,” said U. S. Air Force Capt. Michael Howard, 355th MDG executive officer. “The process of switching to a new electronic health record system across the DOD has required a lot of manpower, time, training and resources that will culminate in a much better patient experience.”

MHS GENESIS is replacing two legacy systems, Composite Health Care System and the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, which have been around since the 1980s. MHS Genesis will provide a single record of care throughout a military member’s service, as well as establish an adaptable system that can evolve as the healthcare industry changes.

“Medical staff will benefit from MHS GENESIS by utilizing one system as opposed to two,” Howard said. “It also allows for the connection of medical and dental information across all areas of responsibility. This includes garrison, operational, and en route care.”

MHS GENESIS is a historic transformation that allows Airmen to access their current medical and dental health records 24/7. Patients will also be able to schedule and cancel appointments, request prescription refills, view clinic and certain laboratory/test results, and have access to a health library. The new patient portal provides this capability, eliminating the need to hand-carry paper records from base-to-base, while giving Airmen access to their records from anywhere in the world.

“It’s going to follow them anywhere they go, including deployments,” said Todd Sauls, Defense Health Administration MHS GENESIS project integration analyst. “When you look at our system we use now called AFHLTA, it’s kind of limited. The new system will be viewable in theater and available from the beginning of their career all the way to retirement.”

Marion Kimani, Military Health System GENESIS trainer, gives instruction to Airman 1st Class Jenna Slaughter, 355th Mental Health technician, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, April 7, 2021. MHS GENESIS is a modernized electronic health record system being implemented across the Department of Defense that enables a more streamlined care experience for patients. (U. S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Blake Gonzales)

While being readily accessible, these new MHS GENESIS features will also have the highest levels of cyber security, providing enhanced and secure technology to manage and safeguard protected health information.

“The system is built to serve patients with increased security and functionality,” Sauls said.

Although it is a new system and new technology, the 355th MDG is preparing for the transition well in advance.

“The desert medics have been through multiple training sessions, practice events, and weekly meetings in the effort to phase out the old systems and implement MHS GENESIS,” Sauls said. “We have also installed new equipment to support MHS GENESIS including bar code scanners, work-stations, and e-signature pads.”

As the new system is implemented, limited appointment availability, longer prescription fill times, and longer wait times are expected.

“We do not anticipate these delays to last long,” Howard said. “While this is unfortunate, it is necessary to ensure our staff has the time to learn this new system so we can continue providing the safe, reliable care you’ve come to expect from us.”

Innovative systems like MHS GENESIS are just one of the ways the 355th MDG, the U. S. Air Force, and the DoD are keeping our airmen fit-to-fight and ready to execute the diverse missions of the 355th Wing.

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