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Military Health System, industry allies work together to improve health care technology

Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, assistant director for combat support at Defense Health Agency, dual-hatted as the Defense Health Agency assistant director for Combat Support and MHS EHR functional champion, and Air Force Col. Thomas Cantilina, chief health informatics officer and EHR deputy functional champion at the DHA, visit the Tiger Institute Jan. 17. (Courtesy photo by University of Missouri Health Care) Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, assistant director for combat support at Defense Health Agency, dual-hatted as the Defense Health Agency assistant director for Combat Support and MHS EHR functional champion, and Air Force Col. Thomas Cantilina, chief health informatics officer and EHR deputy functional champion at the DHA, visit the Tiger Institute Jan. 17. (Courtesy photo by University of Missouri Health Care)

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Civilian and military health informatics leaders came together recently at the University of Missouri’s Tiger Institute for Health Innovation to share their insights, experiences, and best practices on electronic record implementation as the Military Health System undergoes a significant transformation.

The Tiger Institute, located on MU’s campus in Columbia, is a unique partnership between the university’s health care system and Cerner, a global leader in health care technology. By leveraging the technology and the unique partnership with Cerner, the institute has been successful in implementing their electronic record and improving the approach to care through interoperability, interexchange of information, and management of data at the point of care.

The visit, facilitated by Cerner and the Leidos partnership, grew out of a meeting between Dr. Tom Selva, the Tiger Institute’s chief medical informatics officer and Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, who is dual-hatted as the Defense Health Agency assistant director for Combat Support and MHS EHR functional champion, while both were attending the Cerner Healthcare Conference last year in Kansas City.

“When I learned about the Tiger Institute from Dr. Selva, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity for us to see what the future of health care under MHS GENESIS might look like and to learn from the Tiger Institute’s experiences,” said Payne.

“Implementing a new electronic health record is complex, but not unique to the MHS,” said Air Force Col. Thomas Cantilina, chief health informatics officer and EHR deputy functional champion at the Defense Health Agency. “A lot of what we do is just standard health care and that doesn’t change whether we wear the uniform or not, so let’s learn from industry best practices about how to do things right.”

The initial deployment of the Defense Department’s new electronic health record, MHS GENESIS, was completed in the Pacific Northwest last year. In an effort to prepare for the next phase coming in the fall, Payne was joined by Cantilina.

“They’ve been through the process of deploying their EHR, successfully gaining user adoption, and getting people to understand the value of standardizing procedures and utilizing capabilities,” said Cantilina. The meeting gave them an opportunity to discuss the challenges that come with implementing a complex EHR, including training, change management, and communication, he said.

“As we move forward with our deployment of MHS GENESIS, we want to take every opportunity to partner with institutions like the award-winning MU Health,” Payne emphasized. MU Health was awarded the prestigious HIMSS Enterprise Nicholas E. Davies Award of Excellence for health care technology innovations that are improving patient outcomes.

“Like MU Health, the MHS puts patient safety at the center of all our care,” Cantilina noted. “We’re going to the best people out there and leveraging this relationship to make the best implementation possible.”

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