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2017 Year in Review: Places where Military Health System leaders, experts gathered

Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director, Defense Health Agency, speaks at the Defense Health Information Technology Symposium, July 25, in Orlando, Florida. Conferences like this one help MHS and other health care personnel to exchange ideas and information to help improve care to beneficiaries. (Courtesy photo) Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director, Defense Health Agency, speaks at the Defense Health Information Technology Symposium, July 25, in Orlando, Florida. Conferences like this one help MHS and other health care personnel to exchange ideas and information to help improve care to beneficiaries. (Courtesy photo)

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Leaders, industry experts, and clinicians from across the Military Health System gathered to share accomplishments, news, and research happening at home and abroad. Here’s a look at the highlights:

HIMSS. Approximately 40,000 health care IT professionals, clinicians, executives, and vendors from around the world attended the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2017 conference in February in Orlando, Florida, to discuss health care and technology, with topics ranging from cybersecurity to innovation, to interoperability.

The conference provided an opportunity for healthcare professionals to discuss the rollout of MHS GENESIS, which began this year. Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency, outlined several initiatives the MHS is taking to improve delivery of care to its 9.4 million beneficiaries.

FAAST. In July, the Federal Advanced Amputation Skills Training brought together health and wellness experts from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to share best practices in caring for those who have lost limbs because of combat, injury, or disease.

Experts shared findings related to identifying and lessening secondary health complications; laser hair removal and other procedures to make wearing prosthetic sockets more comfortable; acupuncture and other pain-management techniques that don’t involve medications; therapeutic recreation programs such as yoga, swimming, and horseback riding; rehabilitation programs to optimize agility; and sex and intimacy after limb loss.

DHITS. “One Team, One Mission - Creating Our Future Together” was the theme of the Defense Health Information Technology Symposium in Orlando, Florida. The three-day event brought together more than 2,000 information technology professionals, health care providers, and administrators who make use of IT solutions to better serve patients. “Health IT is one of the foundational enterprise support activities,” said Bono, who spoke on July 25. “There is not another support function that touches everything we do.”

MHSRS. The annual Military Health System Research Symposium which took place in August in Kissimmee, Florida, attracted military medical providers, academic researchers, clinical administrators, and more, to discuss the treatment of warfighters, retirees, and their families.

“This is the only large, broad-based research conference focusing on the unique medical needs of the military,” said Dr. Kelley Brix, a physician and division chief with the Defense Health Agency’s Research and Development directorate. “It crosses many different research areas and medical conditions.”

The information shared at the symposium serves more than just the military community. “Many of the breakthroughs made in the military in improving the care of traumatic injuries have been widely adopted in civilian health care,” said Brix. Experts discussed surgical care on the battlefield, life after amputation, regrowing limbs in the future, magnets to relieve depression symptoms, and studying PTSD through biomarkers.

AMSUS. The 126th Annual Continuing Education Meeting of the Society of Federal Health Professionals, also known as AMSUS, took place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, at the end of November. Leaders from the Defense Health Agency and the services came together to discuss health readiness. Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery and Bono spoke during the plenary session.

“Their views on today’s issues will offer a unique opportunity for everyone to hear about the current state and future plans for the Defense Health Agency,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Michael Cowan, executive director of AMSUS. Topics at the conference ranged from global health engagement to the modernization of military health care, including the many advantages designed into MHS GENESIS to ensure that it provides seamless health care for beneficiaries in the system.

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