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Defense Health Agency leaders dominant at annual conference

Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, assistant director for the Defense Health Agency's Combat Support Agency, speaks during this year's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Global Conference and Exhibition. The annual HIMSS event was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. (MHS photo) Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, assistant director for the Defense Health Agency's Combat Support Agency, speaks during this year's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Global Conference and Exhibition. The annual HIMSS event was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. (MHS photo)

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Several Defense Health Agency leaders spoke at this year's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Global Conference and Exhibition. The annual HIMSS event was Feb. 11-15 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, DHA's assistant director for Combat Support Agency, gave the preconference keynote presentation Monday, Feb. 11. Payne spoke about the challenges and opportunities involved with implementing Section 702 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. It calls for DHA to assume control from the military departments of all military treatment facilities across the Military Health System. The first phase began Oct. 1 with the hospitals and clinics at Fort Bragg, Pope Field, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; Naval Air Station, Florida; Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi; and Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. Payne also provided a thorough overview of the DHA mission. Also Monday, Army Col. John Scott, DHA's data manager, spoke about data dynamics.

Pat Flanders, DHA deputy assistant director of information operations, talked Tuesday, Feb. 12, about standardizing, modernizing, and securing health information technology.  To achieve modernization priorities, the DHA needs to move to a more secure, agile, and cost-effective infrastructure provided by shared services. Flanders discussed the primary focus of driving standardization across the enterprise to improve the performance and affordability of health IT operations, and also to enable centralized management capabilities throughout the Military Health System.

He also covered the implementation of Desktop to Datacenter, or D2D, as a critical step in streamlining health IT infrastructure service lines across MHS; cybersecurity concerns, especially for DoD as a target for national security and health care information; and opportunities for improving continuity of care for beneficiaries, who are highly mobile and often receive care from DoD, VA, and private sector health care delivery partners.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Dr. Paul Cordts, deputy assistant director for medical affairs, discussed the clinical quality and patient safety considerations of adopting electronic health records. He also covered the practical considerations of integrating electronic health records into patient care workflows, and summarized the steps MHS is taking to ensure the adoption of MHS GENESIS improves. He also spoke about how to ensure the outcome of improving patient safety in legacy systems as well as with the rollout of MHS GENESIS across the enterprise.

Cyber fluency was the topic Thursday, Feb. 14, for three DHA leaders: Justin Hodges, chief operations officer for DHA's Cybersecurity Operations Center; Justin Williams, deputy chief operations officer for the center; and Servio Medina, chief of cybersecurity oversight, governance and strategy. The panel discussion covered what it means to be cyber fluent, and identified cyber implications of decisions. It also explained the process behind determining mission objectives and risk tolerance, compared and contrasted business decisions against mission objectives to provide an informed decision, and proposed methods that can be used by session participants to evaluate their own level of cyber fluency.

Other speakers at HIMSS included Stacy Cummings, program executive officer for the Program Executive Office, Defense Healthcare Management Systems. Her presentation, Tuesday, was titled "MHS GENESIS: Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare." Cummings  provided an overview of the initial operational capability phase when the single electronic health record deployed to all four final initial fielding sites in the Pacific Northwest. She also talked about lessons learned and plans for future deployments, and managing user expectations for full deployment.

Approximately 45,000 health information and technology professionals, clinicians, executives and market suppliers from around the world attended HIMSS 19. More information can be found here.

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