Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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 | 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...

Printable VAX Fact How Many Doses of the Vaccine Will I Get?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact Do I Still Need to Wear a Facemask After I'm Vaccinated?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact How Much will the COVID-19 Vaccine Cost?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact When can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact Where can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact Getting COVID and Flu Vaccine at Once

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact Will TRICARE Cover the COVID Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact Do I Have to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact Who Can Get the Vaccine Now?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact Should Children Get the COVID Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

Printable VAX Fact Can I Get COVID-19 From the Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance

COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit

Publication
1/5/2021

These messages are provided for you to use on your platforms with any of the images from the COVID-19 Toolkit.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

DoD COVID 19 Vaccine Distribution Plan and Population Schema

Publication
12/10/2020

Regarding the initial COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Defense Department officials announced a phased and coordinated strategic plan for distributing and administering the initial COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended Content:

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

Holiday Season Guidance to Minimize Spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019

Publication
11/16/2020

This memorandum provides guidance to help protect individuals within the DoD community from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for gatherings and activities during the November to January holiday season.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Updated Guidance for Performing Temperature Checks at Military MTFs and DTFs

Publication
10/21/2020

This guidance is an update to Defense Health Agency Return to Full Operations Concept of Operations, V5.0 (June 12, 2020) as it pertains to temperature checks in MTFs and DTFs. Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), previous guidance directed MTFs to take the temperature of all individuals entering the facility. Effective immediately, temperature checks are not required; however, screening of individuals entering MTFs and DTFs and healthcare personnel on duty in the MTF or DTF is to continue.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 7
Refine your search
Last Updated: June 14, 2022

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.