Skip to main content

Military Health System

Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health

Image of Mr. Adler with text: "Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health.". Jamie Adler is the lead for the DHA’s Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office, part of the DHA Connected Health Branch, under DHA Medical Affairs. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Health Care Technology | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

In the pre-COVID-19 world, nearly all health care was delivered in person within brick-and-mortar facilities. Telehealth, referred to in the Department of Defense as virtual health or VH, was a promise of the future—a capability whose time had not quite yet arrived. VH, in those pre-pandemic days, and years, was relegated to pilot demonstrations and to specific specialties such as behavioral health delivered in limited settings.

As with so many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped away long-held health care delivery practices and assumptions. Questions stopped being about if or even when VH would “take off” and started to be about how to maximize VH’s scope and reach in as short of a timeframe as possible. Mirroring the rest of the health care field, DOD rapidly scaled up VH capabilities, guidance, training, procedures, and provider and beneficiary communication and education. Over a period of weeks, the result was a multi-fold increase in overall VH capacity that supported basic clinical services across the DOD enterprise.

From a VH perspective, the pre-COVID-19 world is likely gone. VH as a core health care capability is here to stay. The Military Health System’ path forward can build upon COVID-19 and pre-existing efforts to develop enterprise VH capabilities that connect service members and their families to optimal health care—wherever and whenever it is needed.

To achieve this goal, it is important to realize that VH is not a single technology or business platform, or even group of platforms. Rather, it is about people, processes, and technologies working together across the entire MHS to create health care access solutions on behalf of our 9.6 million beneficiaries around the world.

The MHS is leveraging the experiences and workflows developed rapidly in response to COVID-19 to catalyze transformational change in enterprise use of VH. Coordination among multiple key stakeholders is essential and already underway to develop sustainable solutions that meet real MHS-wide needs.

These stakeholders include:

  • The newly emerging Defense Health Agency markets—regional clusters of MHS military medical treatment facilities
  • An enterprise-wide Virtual Medical Center
  • A variety of DHA headquarters offices, including the DHA Connected Health Branch’s Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office
  • The TRICARE private sector care network
  • The military services and interagency partners such as the Department of Veterans Affairs

Many Systems into One

For years, service-based enterprise and regional health care leaders and military medical treatment facilities (MTFs) spearheaded individual initiatives that built useful VH capabilities in a number of locations across the MHS. This approach, however, resulted in fragmented availability of VH capabilities across the more than 700 MTFs constituting the MHS. In addition, the TRICARE private sector care network permitted VH care only under limited circumstances.

In the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress required the DOD to expand VH across a wide spectrum of services and specialties, and across all direct (MTF-based) care and private sector care networks. Furthermore, Congress required that this VH expansion occur within the context of a consolidation and unification of non-deployed health care under the DHA. Since then, the DHA, the services, and their stakeholders have been working to prioritize, fund, and deliver integrated enterprise VH capabilities to medical centers and clinics, patient locations in the community, and settings in the field.

These efforts have one goal: create an integrated, comprehensive, high-quality, and reliable VH capability that reaches from forward deployment to fixed medical facilities, community settings, and to DOD partners such as the VA. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, as profound as it has been, was to greatly accelerate a process of enterprise VH expansion that is already ongoing.

Success of this endeavor would provide field units, clinics, inpatient facilities, managed care network providers, and virtual providers with the flexibility to meet patient needs regardless of location, while leveraging enterprise-wide competency, technical, procedural, and quality standards. This capability will turn VH into a powerful force multiplier for the MHS, delivering great health outcomes, support for a ready medical force, and enhanced beneficiary satisfaction. By increasing provider and support staff reach, capability, and effectiveness, VH will also help with the DHA’s goal of a fulfilled staff.

Looking Ahead

The COVID-19 pandemic is still testing MHS’ ability to use existing tools, training, and procedures to mount an aggressively accelerated deployment of VH capabilities. As we envision post-pandemic growth of virtual health, the MHS will need to continue to expand VH capabilities across its enterprise, while planning for the comprehensive and integrated tools and approaches that will make such growth sustainable in the long term.

Fielding any technology-based capability—including virtual health—takes a lot of pre-planning, collaboration, and effort. The development, acquisition, and sustainment of VH platforms across the MHS enterprise is an especially complex undertaking.

The MHS has many requirements beyond those followed by the non-DOD health care industry. In addition to providing safe, convenient, quality services, MHS VH must support military readiness and deployed health care, while operating within an environment of enhanced government regulation and heightened security. Meeting these requirements necessitates planning for all appropriate contingencies, including natural and man-made disasters and global emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results of these efforts, on the part of the MHS and its partners will be a virtual health capability that provides universal and global access to high-quality care and consultation to all beneficiaries, regardless of location or circumstance. This future state will be worth the effort for providers, and most importantly for patients, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

You also may be interested in...

Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available for 12 to 17 Year-Olds

Article
8/30/2022
Air Force Staff. Sgt. fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine is Available for Those 12 Years' Old and Above

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

New COVID-19 Boosters Against Subvariants Coming Soon

Article
8/29/2022
Marine on right gets a COVID-19 booster vaccination from a nursing student on his left.

Brooklyn Marine gets COVID-19 booster vaccination.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Technology and Medicine: The Digital Age of Health Care

Article
8/26/2022
Photo of an afternoon panel of four people

Technology is transforming health care and incorporating new elements for providers in their practices.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Health Care Technology | Defense Health Information Technology Symposium

How to Get Your Kids Up to Date on Vaccinations

Article
8/25/2022
Child wearing a mask getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Resources to help you get and keep your child’s immunizations up to date in time for back to school.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Back to School Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare Division

Department of Defense Streamlining Health Tech for Beneficiaries

Article
8/23/2022
People in an exhibit hall.

Advances in technology has vastly improved the accessibility to beneficiaries’ electronic health records.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Defense Health Information Technology Symposium

Learn the Most Recent Age Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Article
8/10/2022
A man fist bumps a child.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get your vaccines and booster shots.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy Expands Access to MHS Care

Article
8/10/2022
Infographic featuring Lt Col Legault

MHS has Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy: A fast, efficient process that enables providers to file one application and get permission to virtually treat patients anywhere in the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Telehealth Program

DHA Program Supports Training Education of Future Medical Providers

Article
7/20/2022
Military personnel looking at display

The Clinical Investigations Program combines research and training to teach and develop the future clinicians of the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Education & Training | Health Care Technology | Health Readiness & Combat Support

DHA Leads NATO's Historical Medical Interoperability Exercise

Article
7/15/2022
Officers watch a presentation in a room.

The Defense Health Agency collaborated with NATO and partner organizations for CWIX 2022 held in Poland, 6-24 June.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Global Health Engagement | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability

MHS Virtual Education Center Empowers Patients to Improve Outcomes

Article
7/14/2022
Army Col. (Dr.) Maria Molina provides insight on the latest MHS digital resource for patients.

The Defense Health Agency is developing the Virtual Education Center: A web-based library and communications platform that enables providers and patients to access, store, and use vetted MHS education resources more easily than ever before.

Recommended Content:

Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Ready Reliable Care | Health Care Technology | MHS GENESIS

How MHS GENESIS will become essential to patients' health journey

Article
6/21/2022
Dr. Robert Marshall, program director of the Department of Defense Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Ensuring proper training of both providers and patients is essential for the successful integration and sustainment of MHS GENESIS into MHS care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Health Care Technology | MHS GENESIS Toolkit | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | MHS GENESIS

How Military Medicine Is Preparing for the Next Conflict

Article
6/8/2022
As the Pentagon prepares today’s force for a “near-peer” fight against a large military adversary, the Military Health System is challenged to provide life-saving support for large-scale and dispersed operations.

As the Pentagon prepares today’s force for a “near-peer” fight against a large military adversary, the Military Health System is challenged to provide life-saving support for large-scale and dispersed operations. That’s especially true for the medics supporting troops on the front lines.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Health Care Technology | Education & Training | Medical Education and Training Campus

After Leading Through the Pandemic, TRICARE Pharmacy Chief Retires

Article
5/27/2022
Pharmacy Services

How COVID-driven changes are improving the TRICARE Pharmacy System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Health Care Technology

How MHS Video Connect Improves Mission Effectiveness and Care Quality

Article
5/18/2022
Army Lt. Col (Dr.) Robert Cornfeld explains how MHS Video Connect's convenient, secure, and easy-to-use virtual video visit capability helps providers keep patients on mission and improves engagement with them, directly leading to better health outcomes.

Open to all active duty service members, retirees, and their families enrolled in a military hospital or clinic, MHS Video Connect empowers patients to meet with their military health provider virtually through live video on any internet-connected computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Health Care Technology | MHS Video Connect | Information for Providers | Military Hospitals and Clinics

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 18
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 10, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery