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Connected Health Hosts DHA Digital Health Virtual Summit

MHS providers discuss the new MHS Video Connect at the second Digital Health Virtual Summit MHS providers discuss the new MHS Video Connect at the second Digital Health Virtual Summit

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MHS Video Connect | Access to Health Care

The second Digital Health Virtual Summit occurred on Nov. 9 to educate attendees about the Defense Health Agency's new standard telehealth solution: MHS Video Connect.

After opening remarks, the event started with the Superuser Roundtable: Provider Pioneers who shared first-hand experience using MHS Video Connect. Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Robert Cornfeld, pediatric gastroenterologist, Madigan Army Medical Center, moderated the roundtable and welcomed Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Ryan Brennan; Dr. Johnson Chang; Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) William Chin; and Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Isaac Schwartz.

All five providers spoke about the benefits of virtual health for the patient. They explained how they learned to provide care to beneficiaries in remote locations, efficiently see more beneficiaries, provide specialty services to more beneficiaries, and save money by conducting certain visits virtually when appropriate.

"As physicians, I genuinely believe that we have to lead the MHS Video Connect efforts to reimagine patient access and health care delivery in both the garrison and operational spaces," Cornfeld stated.

Like any change, it may take time for patients and providers to get comfortable with the new technology. Thus far, providers said they found the learning curve to virtual health was minimal; beneficiaries of all ages did not struggle adapting to the new technology. More importantly, the providers preferred MHS Video Connect over other video services because it was compliant with federal privacy laws, safe, and secure.

"One of the advantages of virtual health is it really allows us to expand our medical capabilities and expertise across the country and across the world – a huge win for virtual health and for our patients, which matter most," Brennan said.

After the roundtable, Brennan came back to the summit and was joined by his patient, Army Spc. Bryan Hamrick, who serves in the Army's Transportation Corps at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Hamrick shared the patient perspective of using MHS Video Connect. At his duty station, he has access to primary care providers, but did not have a local specialist for the back pain he was experiencing.

Through MHS Video Connect, he was able to meet with Brennan, a neurosurgeon, review the film that was done locally, and do some minor mobility tests while video chatting with Brennan.

From that meeting Brennan was able to do an evaluation, inform Hamrick of his choices, and save him from flying down to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington for an initial visit. Brennan determined Hamrick did need surgery. However time away from his family and unit was reduced by using MHS Video Connect. Hamrick and Brennan said they have been able to do post-op visits over MHS Video Connect, and a local provider was able to remove staples from Hamrick.

Hamrick explained how he received the same, if not better, care by integrating the MHS Video Connect platform into his care. He said his in-person visits were more effective because he could discuss details prior to meeting in person. He enjoyed the process so much that he has recommended MHS Video Connect to other service members.

Vicky Cruz and Jason Houchins joined the Digital Health Virtual Summit to give a detailed demonstration of the MHS Video Connect platform. The demo covered both the provider and beneficiary view. They explained everything from scheduling and email and video checks, to consent and other key information needed when conducting an MHS Video Connect appointment.

The Second Digital Health Virtual Summit wrapped up with a question and answer session with Air Force Lt. Col. John DaLomba, DHA solution owner for MHS Video Connect; and David Gravseth, assistant program manager for Virtual Health, DOD Healthcare Management System Modernization.

"MHS Video Connect is a conduit to enable communication between a patient and a provider," said DaLomba when discussing how MHS Video Connect will improve care for beneficiaries.

"The philosophy of [MHS] Video Connect is ease of use and flexibility. You can use it whether you're at a [military treatment facility], at home, or on a mobile network," Gravseth stated.

MHS Video Connect allows Military Health System beneficiaries enrolled at any military hospital or clinic to conveniently meet with their care team through secure, live video on any internet-connected device.

You can find more information about MHS Video Connect here.

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This Army OTSG/MEDCOM policy identifies responsibilities of MTF commanders, primary care, specialty care and other stakeholders identified in the appointing process to ensure patient satisfaction for our beneficiaries; outlines use of alternative portals such as Army Medicine Secure Messaging, Nurse Advice Line and TRICARE Online; specific procedures are also identified to correctly transfer calls in accordance with existing access to care standards, referral management protocols, and proper use of managing clinic schedules to ensure appointing success the first time one of our patients seeks access.

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Air Force Instruction 44-176: Access to Care Continuum

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