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The Defense Health Agency participates in AUSA 2019 annual meeting

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, DHA Director, discusses upcoming Military Health System changes designed to improve the readiness of combat forces during a seminar held at the Association of the United States Army 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.  Lt. Gen. Place explained how DHA is standardizing systems to improve healthcare across the enterprise.  (DHA Photo by Hannah Wagner) U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, DHA Director, discusses upcoming Military Health System changes designed to improve the readiness of combat forces during a seminar held at the Association of the United States Army 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. Lt. Gen. Place explained how DHA is standardizing systems to improve healthcare across the enterprise. (DHA Photo by Hannah Wagner)

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WASHINGTON – The Defense Health Agency participated in the Association of the United States Army’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14-16. The exposition brought together service members and civilians to discuss the future of the Army and national defense, allowing DHA to highlight its role in keeping soldiers healthy and ready for battle through the Military Health System.

The MHS supports more than 9.4 million beneficiaries, including active duty service members, their families, and military retirees. The conference allowed DHA to showcase how the agency supports beneficiaries through a worldwide network of military treatment facilities and purchased-care options.

The annual exposition featured seminars and panel discussions on pertinent military and national security subjects, and dozens of professional development events that included key leaders from the Army, DoD, and Congress.

During one seminar, Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the DHA, shared his view of the future of the Military Health System and health care for military families. Place emphasized how the agency is standardizing procedures across the MHS to provide quality, patient-centered care for all beneficiaries.

“The number-one objective in the Defense Health Agency,” Place said, “is to get from where we are now, developing local solutions to solve problems, to a standardized system where it all makes sense. We are standardizing our systems to better support all of you.”

In another seminar, U.S. Navy Capt. Edward Simmer, TRICARE Health Plan chief clinical officer, discussed upcoming changes to the TRICARE health benefit, and highlighted how beneficiaries can make changes to their health care plans during the upcoming TRICARE Open Season, Nov. 11 – Dec. 9.

Simmer also explained that the AUSA conference provided the opportunity to interact with beneficiaries who may have questions about their TRICARE benefits.

“It’s a very good way for us to get the word out about pending changes,” Simmer said. “Plus, [we receive] information through their questions and comments about what’s working, what’s not working, and what changes they’d like to see. That helps us shape the benefits going forward.”

TRICARE beneficiaries can learn more about their benefits through TRICARE’s website.

The conference also provided an opportunity to demonstrate how the MHS has contributed to health care innovation by harnessing state-of-the-art technology. During the conference, DHA exhibited a three-dimensional, multimaterial printer used by the Uniformed Services University for Health Sciences to demonstrate how bioprinting could solve medical logistics challenges in austere combat environments of the future.

Dr. Vincent Ho, professor and chair of the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at USU, explained how 3D printers have manufactured scalpel handles and hemostats, bioactive bandages, and surgical models of a T9 vertebrae and a meniscus.

“We got a lot of interest from conference attendees on how we’re using biomanufacturing in the field,” Ho said. “It’s great exposure to show what USU is working on in medical science.”

As the DHA continues to innovate the future of military medicine, Place assured conference attendees that their care remains a top priority, encouraging them to ask questions and provide feedback on the system.

“The Military Health System gets better every day,” said Place, “because every single leader…is universally aligned in the idea that what we do matters to you.”

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