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Army Medicine senior leaders meet to map out medical transformation

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) 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)

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Senior leaders of the Army Medicine met on Jan. 28, 2020, to discuss issues related to the transformation of Army Medicine and the way ahead to ensure optimal medical readiness for soldiers and all military medical beneficiaries. The forum was held at Fort Belvoir and involved about 350 leaders.

The group was told they will play an important role in reshaping Army Medicine. Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the U.S. Army Surgeon General, opened the session by stating the attendees were “an all-star lineup” and their role for the forum was to gain “a better understanding of the breadth and depth of change” that comes with the transition of Army Medicine.

Day one of the forum was dedicated to updates on the strategic environment and reports on the status of stakeholders such as the Reserves and National Guard. The morning also featured comments by the Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph M. Martin and the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) Honorable Thomas McCaffery.

Martin, speaking via voice conference, said, “Your leadership is critical to the Army medical care enterprise.” Without the soldier he said, we could never be where we are. He reminded participants that the Chief of Staff of the Army James C. McConville’s highest priority is people, especially their health and wellness.

Martin mentioned a couple of his concerns. He asked participants to remember one consequence of downsizing medical treatment facilities is sending beneficiaries on the outside health care network, and they would then become dependent on the outside network’s capability. He also noted that military graduate education programs “must be the best” in order to compete for the best medical talent.

McCaffery reminded everyone that of 18 studies since World War II on the military health services, almost all recommended consolidating the three into a single health care organization to improve care and access for beneficiaries. A key goal was always less duplication and redundancy. Hey also stressed that maintaining a readiness-related caseload for physicians would lead to increased proficiency and solutions for health care.

Director of the Defense Health Agency, Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place added comments on understanding the culture of other services medical departments. The cultures are different, he said, and understanding the other culture of other services will make it easier to work together.

Army Brig. Gen. Jill Faris provided an update on major issues regarding Army medical reform. The big issues have been the transition of medical treatment facilities to the Defense Health Agency and continued implementation of the electronic heath record. Transfer of civilian positions is ongoing, although all existing civilian employees scheduled to transfer are expected to be moved under DHA without issue.

Updates that reflected changes related to ongoing medical transition were heard from commanders at the Medical Center of Excellence (Training and Doctrine Command), FORSCOM Surgeons Office (Forces Command), Medical Research and Development Command (Futures Command), Army Medical Command, Defender 20, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard.

“Things are changing at the speed of relevance,” said Dingle, setting the tone for the day. “As leaders it is imperative that we understand the changes that are going on, and that we are also responsive to these changes, because if you are not responsive to the changes you lose the relevance. And so, fasten your seat belts, batten down the hatches, be ready to make these supersonic speed changes.”

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