Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

DHA Director Outlines Vision for Health Care Readiness at HIMSS

Image of Army Lt. General (Dr.) Ron Place during his speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference held in Orlando, Florida, March 2022. Place’s speech detailed his thoughts on solutions to military health care readiness. (Photo: Claire Reznicek, MHS Communications). Army Lt. General (Dr.) Ron Place during his speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference held in Orlando, Florida, March 2022. Place’s speech detailed his thoughts on solutions to military health care readiness. (Photo: Claire Reznicek, MHS Communications)

Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ron Place, the Director of the Defense Health Agency, spoke recently about the vital role that communications and data systems can play in supporting the Military Health System. 

Speaking at the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Orlando, Florida, Place outlined his views on the connections between medicine, national security, and technology-driven solutions for better patient treatment. 

His speech highlighted military medical education and training and ways to improve it in the future. He emphasized the essential role of unit-level medical teams across the force. 

“The lives of America’s sons and daughters are saved by medics and by corpsmen,” Place affirmed. 

Supporting those medical teams is a key component of medical readiness, he said. 

“Readiness means you never let your guard down. You think about it. You’re prepared for the worst-case scenario so you can better prevent it from ever happening. And to do that, you demand agility from your people, from your equipment, and from your systems – and in particular your information systems from which your people rely on to make decisions.” 

Place said the title of his presentation, “Clear and Present Danger: Lessons from the Military Healthcare System,” was “willfully borrowed,” from Tom Clancy’s best-selling political thriller novel. 

“First, what are the clear and present dangers facing the Department of Defense, at least from my present vision within the Military Health System?” he asked. “And second, what are the solutions that I, and my colleagues, are looking for to help us best prepare to meet those challenges?” 

Place drew an analogy from aviation, describing a scenario that pilots might experience while flying through a storm. He pointed to the important distinction between dangers that are present versus those that are clear.  

Place pointed to the different techniques that pilots rely on to navigate their aircraft, including “Visual Flight Rules,” or VFR, which pilots use in good weather when they can clearly see the ground and other obstacles. He compared VFR to “Instrument Flight Rules,” or IFR, which is the technique pilots use in bad weather when they cannot see clearly from the cockpit and have to rely on data provided by instruments on their control panels to navigate the aircraft. 

“Given a choice, most pilots will avoid that storm and choose to veer off to the right, into the clear, where they will follow the Visual Flight Rules, or VFR. Better weather, safer, more comfortable,” he said. 

But sometimes that’s not an option, Place explained, and aviators might have to turn into the storm and rely on instrument flight rules. The systems and instrumentation on the aircraft help pilots when they must fly blind. 

In medicine and the military, we may not always have the option to choose the safe route, he said. 

“We don’t always get to choose an easier path,” Place said. 

In these scenarios, mission control plays a critical role by providing a perspective that may include vital information that the flight crew cannot immediately access. 

“While the air crew is performing its assessment, there may be other risk factors that would lead mission control to have them go left into that storm,” Place said. 

“Mission control centers almost always have a larger view of the operating environment,” which can include key intelligence or other issues the flight crew is unaware of, he explained.  

“Supervisors, leaders in the mission control center are making their own risk calculations. Of course, they factor in all the information that they are getting from the aircrew. But they are also considering all the other details that I just mentioned that the aircrew is blissfully unaware of. Mission control is connected to numerous data systems. They are, in many ways, an example of the IFR system,” he said. 

Place stressed that the tools used to detect problems in the system are important but so are the people using those tools. “Individual defenders have been and will be the lynch pin to our success,” he stated. 

Place explained that medical personnel must have the tools and the training needed to detect the problems in the system. “Will they know the threat when they see it? And have they been properly trained to react? Have we provided them the training, simulators, the ‘settings and repetitions’ to be ready? Have we resourced them with what they need to be a success?” he said. 

“Did we give them IFR-like data coupled with VFR skills that they need? In retrospect, I think the answer is largely yes,” he said. 

The solution is to be more detailed, he said. Great health care requires timely and reliable patient data. “And what we need to do better in the future is customize care recommendations for individual patients.”  

Place recalled the period in 2020, early in the pandemic, when customization was not possible due to a lack of information and scientific data. Now, however, there is enough data to offer evolving treatment programs. 

And to be effective, the information needs to be shared with the front-line teams. The information – and the treatments – must move at lightning speed, he said. 

While good, rapid and reliable data is a key component of modern health care, Place also emphasized the human aspects of the MHS mission. 

“And the other element to outstanding outcomes, is a ready medical force. This gets to the skills of our medical teams that operate alongside our line counterparts to support in unfamiliar environments.” 

“We are a military health care system. And our goal is to produce medics and corpsmen who can think on their feet, take what they have learned and apply it in non-traditional settings,” he said. Good training and proper preparation will help medical teams recognize the dangers and adjust to the circumstances that they may find themselves in. 

“We utilize technology to train our medical teams and to outfit our home station, and deployed hospital and clinics. That technology must be modern, secure, and connected. But the most important tool is the medic, the corpsman, stepping out into the element unafraid, with their aid bag, and the skills gained through training, and experience—the sets and reps needed to hone those skills, to fly VFR, even in the storm.” 

“The moment is now to invest smartly on items that can keep soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen healthy and able to deploy,” he concluded. 

You also may be interested in...

Article Around MHS
Aug 17, 2023

Naval Medical Research & Development Researchers Participate in Undersea Operational Research Panel at MHSRS

Panel presenters for the Undersea Operational Research panel at the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Medical researchers from the Naval Medical Research & Development (NMR&D) enterprise specializing in undersea health met for a panel during the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium (MHRSR) on Aug.15.

Article Around MHS
Aug 10, 2023

U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity Logisticians, Reserve Soldiers, Army Logistics Support Capstone Hospital Conversion Effort in Northern California’s High Desert

U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from across the 807th Medical Command inventory newly fielded medical equipment inside a storage warehouse at Sierra Army Depot, California, on July 19, 2023. Members of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, and soldiers with the 807th MCDS began an inventory of medical supplies this week as part of a capstone field hospital conversion mission for eight Army Reserve medical commands belonging to the 801st Combat Support Hospital. (Photo: T. T. Parish/U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, partnering with the Army Reserve’s 807th Medical Command, reached a milestone in its yearslong efforts to support U.S. Army Reserve medical commands last week, starting the final hospital conversion at the Sierra Army Depot in California.

Article Around MHS
Jul 24, 2023

Expeditionary Medical Facility Kilo Completes Readiness Exercise, Earns Deployment-Ready Status

Expeditionary Medical Facility Kilo successfully completed its Operational Readiness Evaluation in Camp Pendleton, California, June 14-21. Approximately 134 EMF Kilo personnel trained in setting up and operating a 50-bed, medical treatment facility. (Photo: U.S. Navy HM2 James Comick, Naval Expeditionary Medical Training Institute)

Expeditionary Medical Facility Kilo successfully completed its Operational Readiness Evaluation. The focus of the ORE held in Camp Pendleton, California was testing the command’s ability to stand up a fully functional field hospital, capable of operating when deployed at any location around the world.

Article Around MHS
Jun 28, 2023

88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron Focused on ‘Fit to Fight’ Force

Brenda Couch watches over U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ron Sparkman, a student at the 155th medical group with the Nebraska National Guard, as he checks vitals on an airman during training at Wright-Patterson Medical Center on June 13. Operational Medical Readiness Squadron was this month’s pick for “Dominate the Dirty Work,” a series of stories offering an in depth look at the hard working and dedicated individuals that often go unseen. (Photo: Kenneth J. Stiles, U.S. Air Force)

The 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron provides direct support to U.S. Air Force operations by promoting and sustaining force health, preventing injury and illness, restoring health, and elevating human performance. Its top priority is ensuring airmen and military members are medically ready to execute their missions at home-base and deployed ...

Article Around MHS
Jun 15, 2023

24 Nations Unite at Military Nursing Exchange to Enhance USAFE-AFAFRICA Partnerships, Readiness

Polish Air Force Medic, 1st Lt. Marzena Dudaryk, administers Tactical Combat Casualty Care during a simulation session at the U.S Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa European-African Military Nurses Exchange Conference on May 31, 2023.

Nurses and medical professionals from 24 allied and partner nations, including the U.S., converged at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa 2023 European-African Military Nursing Exchange conference, May 31 – June 2, to share medical knowledge and professional best practices with one another.

Report
Jun 1, 2023

MSMR Vol. 30 No. 6 - June 2023

.PDF | 1.55 MB

This annual issue quantifies the impacts of various illnesses and injuries in 2022 among members of the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as the U.S. Coast Guard; health care burden metrics include the total number of medical encounters, including hospitalizations and ambulatory services, as well as numbers and types of individuals ...

Article Around MHS
May 31, 2023

Transformed U.S. Army Pharmacy Readiness Training Course Enhances Force Sustainment for Future Combat Operations

U.S. Army Capt Lauren Kaminski of Evans Army Community Hospital, Fort Carson and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rosalinda Bermea-Arriaga from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, log controlled substance medications in the pharmacy at the training field hospital at Camp Bullis, Texas. Proper management of controlled substances is vital to the safety, security, and legal compliance of our forces. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Army pharmacists and pharmacy specialists from across the country traveled to Camp Bullis, Texas, this week to participate in a 40-hour deployment readiness course hosted by the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence. The course is designed to prepare personnel to provide efficient pharmaceutical in an austere, multi-domain, large-scale operating ...

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery