Back to Top Skip to main content

Transition spotlight: Air Force Medical Service

Air Force Maj. Nicole Ward, left, and Capt. Matthew Muncey, program managers with the Air Force Medical Service Transition Cell, at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, Jan. 9, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Mahler) Air Force Maj. Nicole Ward, (left), and Capt. Matthew Muncey, program managers with the Air Force Medical Service Transition Cell, at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, Jan. 9, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Mahler)

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — The Defense Health Agency assumed management and administration of all U.S.-based military treatment facilities in October 2019, a critical milestone in the ongoing transformation of the Air Force Medical Service and the Military Health System. The AFMS is still transferring management functions to the DHA.

The U.S. Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs Office spoke with two Airmen deeply involved with the process of standing up DHA’s new capabilities to manage MTFs, ensuring this process is as smooth as possible for personnel and patients. Air Force Maj. Nicole “Nikki” Ward and Air Force Capt. Matthew “MC” Muncey are both assigned to the AFMS Transition Cell, helping facilitate the numerous ongoing and evolving transformation activities throughout the AFMS and MHS.

In the first part of our two-part conversation, Ward and Muncey share how the AFMS Transition Cell works closely with its DHA, Army and Navy counterparts, and how those relationships are beneficial to the transformation.

What is your roll in the AFMS? How do you support the DHA Transition?

Ward: I’m a program manager in the AFMS Transition Cell team and specifically detailed to the DHA Transition Intermediate Management Office housed in the National Capital Region market office at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I work with the market office to ensure a standardized and successful execution of the first four markets, which are Coastal Mississippi, Central North Carolina, Jacksonville and the National Capital Region. The tIMO currently effects 58 of our 450 facilities in the MHS, including seven Air Force facilities.

Muncey: I too am a program manager in the Cell, and I wear a few different hats. I work with Air Force functional leads on the Air Force implementation plan and with DHA’s program management office on the plan to stand up DHA headquarters functions here at the Defense Health Headquarters. I’m also part of the team developing the plan that eventually will roll around to the different markets, the small and stand-alone markets and the Defense Health Regions in a couple of years. And those plans aren’t just for Air Force MTFs, they also encompass the Army and Navy.

What is the AFMS Transition Cell?

Muncey: AFMS leadership created the Transition Cell in 2018 to be the primary interface with the DHA and represent the Air Force position on the development of policy and plans in transition of the MTFs to DHA over the next several years. The Cell has representation from the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, both AFMRA North in Falls Church, Virginia and AFMRA South in San Antonio.

Ward: The Transition Cell is a clearinghouse of information. We are taking on a huge merger effort, and the Transition Cell facilitates communication and collaboration both within the AFMS, and externally to DHA, Army and Navy to make the process as smooth as possible.

What is the value in having the AFMS partner so closely with the DHA?

Ward: We work closely with DHA and the tIMO program management offices to ensure clear communication flows to build support and deliver guidance to Air Force and our service partners’ MTFs. Each service brings its own best practices and approaches to make this process possible. This collaboration furthers the MHS high reliability organization journey, reflecting and enhancing our own Air Force Trusted Care principles.

Muncey: It also means the Air Force lends its expertise to the transition process and DHA’s implementation efforts. The first example to demonstrate the value of our partnership is the AFMS memorandum of agreement with DHA to provide direct support to the MTFs. This agreement allows us to maintain uninterrupted operations supporting Air Force MTFs, freeing up DHA to develop and mature its processes. Air Force’s early and frequent engagement with the DHA yielded positive results for the Air Force and the entire enterprise.

The Air Force leaned forward and really led the way, and the Army and Navy adopted that approach as well, which really had an affect across the entire enterprise. I think we showed the other services the benefits of partnering more deeply with DHA.

People in the field may not understand the relationship between DHA and the AFMS. Can you characterize your experience working with DHA?

Ward: I think the relationship is really strong, and DHA is eager to work with us to learn and ensure a successful transition.

Muncey: Agree. DHA recognizes it doesn’t have all the answers to these questions, and is very open and transparent about that. So, it relies heavily on the services to lend our time and talent toward trying to figure out these problems. That’s really where the Transition Cell offers up a lot of the benefits of this productive partnership. We focus on making the transition as seamless as possible by working with DHA to make sure we meet Congress’s intent, while preserving what we already do well at the MTF.

How is the Transition Cell collaborating with DHA and the tIMO making the transition smoother for MTFs?

Ward: It’s all about consistent communication and collaboration. We facilitate the communication, in both directions, to build support and guidance for Air Force and other service partner MTFs. The inputs we deliver get translated into current and future policies from DHA. As I mentioned before, each service is sharing their best practices, gearing the MHS up to employ the best one. One area where Air Force is being particularly vocal is our Trusted Care culture, which is being incorporated into the foundation of the MHS’s high reliability programs going forward.

Muncey: I think one of the main things we’re doing is partnering with DHA early and often, to find solutions and get to yes. That’s up and outfacing with DHA and other services. Another thing is to organize and prioritize the deluge of information cascading on MTFs. We can triage that, and pull out what’s relevant, important and timely for the MTFs and communicate that down. The intent is for everybody, regardless of where they are on the schedule, to have visibility and awareness of what’s going on so they can plan ahead.

What has surprised you most about the process so far?

Ward: How massive this effort really is and the history associated with it! Since World War II, the Department of Defense conducted numerous studies reviewing the MHS and specifically looking at evolving knowledge, skills and abilities across conflicts. I do believe every stakeholder involved wants to get the best process in place to optimize care for our military members and beneficiaries and ensure a ready medical force.

Muncey: In my career before joining the Air Force, I worked on several large organizational transformation processes in the civilian sector. Coming into the transition, I thought I had a pretty good idea of how it would go, but each day really brings new challenges and surprises I couldn’t have anticipated. I’m continually surprised by the ingenuity we have in the Cell, and what we see from DHA. Really, I’m impressed by the willingness of so many people to volunteer towards finding a way to make the transition successful, and always balancing that with continuing to providing world class care to our patients, and executing our readiness mission.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

MTF facilities, markets set to resume transition heading into 2021

Article
1/6/2021
A military nurse, wearing a mask, prepares a needle for a vaccination

Butler says transition on track.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus

Deputy defense secretary stresses team approach in battling COVID

Article
12/10/2020
Soldier wearing mask, standing at computer monitors in an office building

The Military Health System has played an important role implementing the National Defense Strategy, Norquist said.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Health Readiness

MHS leaders discuss future of military medicine during AMSUS panel

Article
12/9/2020
Military personnel, wearing masks, standing in a line in front of flags

For Dingle, readiness is the key issue during the transition.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program | MHS Transformation

Pandemic underscores MHS’ need for reform, McCaffery tells AMSUS

Article
12/8/2020
Army soldier gets nose swab

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHS had embarked on reforms and initiatives to improve its medical support to the armed services.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Trials | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

DHA Director outlines how MHS standardization bolsters reform

Article
10/15/2020
Two soldiers in masks, talking

How COVID-19 repositioned the best laid plans of the DoD.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Joint Health Information Exchange | MHS GENESIS | MHS Transformation

Defense Health Agency celebrates seven years of service

Article
10/1/2020
Lt. Gen. Ronald Place holding a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery

Seven ways DHA has improved military readiness over the years.

Recommended Content:

Defense Health Agency | Coronavirus | MHS Transformation | Technology | Global Health Engagement | TRICARE Health Program | Total Force Fitness

DHA Launches New Air Force Military Hospital and Clinic Websites

Article
9/1/2020
Two hands holding a tablet, which displays a new TRICARE MTF website, against a background of a wooden table.

The website enhancement is part of the transition of administrative oversight of MTFs to the DHA under the 2017 NDAA.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

McCaffery offers MHS view with Blue Star Families panel

Article
2/28/2020
Thomas McCaffery (center) participated in the Blue Star Families Panel at American Red Cross National Headquarters Feb. 26. He is seen here with Amy Goyer (left), family and caregiving expert at AARP, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Patty Horoho (right), CEO of OptumServe. The panel discussed timely, quality health care for service members and their families. (Photo by MHS Communications)

The Honorable Thomas McCaffery participated in the Blue Star Families panel to discuss MHS transformation for families

Recommended Content:

Access to Health Care | MHS Transformation | MHS GENESIS | Mental Health Care

DHA Director discusses vision for future

Article
2/25/2020
Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, Director, Defense Health Agency, visits with the staff of the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic in Germany.  Since becoming DHA Director, Lt. Gen. Place has focused on creating great outcomes for the beneficiaries who rely on the Military Health System for their health care.

DHA is providing a more integrated system of readiness and health

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Careful, deliberate changes ahead for select MTFs

Article
2/19/2020
The Department of Defense today announced plans to restructure 50 military hospitals and clinics to better support wartime readiness of military personnel and to improve clinical training for medical forces who deploy in support of combat operations around the world. Of the 343 facilities in the United States initially screened for this report, 77 were selected for additional assessment, with 21 identified for no changes. (DoD file photo)

The DoD’s top health official shared plans to restructure 50 military hospitals and clinics, emphasizing changes will prioritize the warfighter and force readiness

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

McCaffery announces upcoming changes to military hospitals, clinics

Article
2/19/2020
The Honorable Tom McCaffery, DoD's assistant secretary of defense for health affairs emphasized DoD's priority is to focus on wartime readiness while ensuring continued beneficiary access to quality health care. (DoD photo)

McCaffery emphasized DoD's priority is to focus on wartime readiness while ensuring continued beneficiary access to quality health care

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

DoD to restructure 50 hospitals, clinics to improve readiness

Article
2/19/2020
The Department of Defense today announced plans to restructure 50 military hospitals and clinics to better support wartime readiness of military personnel and to improve clinical training for medical forces who deploy in support of combat operations around the world. (DoD file photo)

The restructuring effort focused on strengthening the prime responsibility of military medical facilities for training medical personnel

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

Top military hospitals to set bar for surgical care in MHS

Article
2/7/2020
Surgical care within the Military Health System helps build and maintain a ready medical force. Results from the adult ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program assist the MHS in creating policy and verifying surgical skills throughout the enterprise's military hospitals. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mike DiMestico/Released)

The Military Health System uses the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program to better inform surgical standards.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation

Jacksonville Market strengthens medical readiness, patients’ health

Article
2/5/2020
Dr. Barclay Butler, Defense Health Agency's assistant director for management, Navy Rear Adm. Anne Swap, commander, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic, and Navy Capt. Matthew Case, commander of Naval Hospital Jacksonville and commanding officer of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Jacksonville, discuss the Jacksonville Market with community partners at the hospital. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel, Naval Hospital Jacksonville)

The Jacksonville Market serves 163,000 beneficiaries, including about 72,000 who are enrolled with a primary care manager

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Army Medicine senior leaders meet to map out medical transformation

Article
1/31/2020
Key leaders at the Army Medicine Senior Leader Forum watch Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, Army Surgeon General, at podium during the Army Medicine Senior Leaders Forum on Jan. 28, 2020, to discuss issues related to the transformation of Army Medicine and how to manage the way ahead to ensure optimal medical readiness for soldiers and all military medical beneficiaries. Attendees include the Director of the Defense Health Agency, Army  Lt. Gen. Ronald Place (left foreground), and Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) Thomas McCaffery (center foreground). The forum was held at Fort Belvoir and involved about 350 leaders. (U.S. Army photo by Jenie Fisher)

Since World War II, of 18 studies on the military health services, almost all recommended consolidating the three into a single health care organization

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation
<< < 1 2 3 4 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 4

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.