Skip to main content

Military Health System

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)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

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...

Protecting Your Hearing and Vision is a Personal Readiness Mission

Photo
6/14/2022
Protecting Your Hearing and Vision is a Personal Readiness Mission

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Dominique Campbell drives a forklift on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during a vertical replenishment. She is wearing proper hearing and vision protection.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Iraq Bomb Attack Led Soldier to Pursue Medical Career

Photo
5/12/2022
Iraq Bomb Attack Led Soldier to Pursue Medical Career

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mathew Maxwell (Left) and U.S. Capt. Brian Ahern, medical personnel assigned to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency recovery team, check the pulse of a local villager during excavation operations in the Houaphan province, Laos, Feb. 5, 2019. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael O'Neal)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Health Readiness & Combat Support

Expeditionary Medical Integration

Photo
5/12/2022
Expeditionary Medical Integration

U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy Corpsmen with 1st Marine Division asses the injuries under the supervision of evaluators during an Expeditionary Medical Integration Course (EMIC) on Camp Pendleton, California May 5, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Hearing Problems Decline

Photo
12/14/2021
Hearing Problems Decline

Hearing loss in the Department of Defense continues to decrease for service members and civilians enrolled in hearing conservation programs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

WICC Podcast

Photo
10/18/2021
WICC Podcast

Today’s female service member population is now at 17%.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care | Total Force Fitness

Battlefield Medicine Course

Photo
9/28/2016
Battlefield Medicine Course

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Triana, left, 347th Operations Support Squadron independent duty medical technician-paramedic, addresses injuries on a simulated patient during a tactical combat casualty care course, in Okeechobee, Florida. The course tests and reinforces participants’ lifesaving medical skills while they are in high-stress, combat scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Orient Shield

Photo
9/26/2016
Orient Shield

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force medics carry a casualty from an ambulance to a JGSDF helicopter while a U.S. Army medic calls directions during a bilateral medical training exercise.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command

Photo
9/23/2016
Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command

Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command, Medical Support Unit-Europe conduct medical evacuation training with Staff Sgt. Jessie Turner, flight medic with the 1st Armored Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

MEDEVAC Helicopter

Photo
9/23/2016
MEDEVAC Helicopter

It is important for Soldiers to know what to expect when a MEDEVAC helicopter arrives and how to approach the helicopters, load patients aboard and how to interact with their crew chief and flight medic in order to do ground handoffs. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Big Rescue Kanagawa 2016

Photo
9/20/2016
Big Rescue Kanagawa 2016

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Reginaldo Cagampan, left, and Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rocky Pambid, members of the U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka Emergency Response Team, treat a simulated patient during the 2016 Big Rescue Kanagawa Disaster Prevention Joint Drill in Yokosuka city, Japan. Multiple agencies took part in the drill including the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force, as well as personnel from the Japan Self-Defense Force and Japanese government agencies. (U.S. Navy photo by Greg Mitchell)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Ukrainian soldiers on field litter ambulances

Photo
9/20/2016
Ukrainian soldiers on field litter ambulances

A Ukrainian Soldier uses hand signals during a ground guide exercise of field litter ambulance familiarization on the driving range at Yavoriv Training Area, Ukraine. A team of medics and a mechanic from 557th Medical Company and 212th Combat Support Hospital are working together to conduct field littler ambulance and medical equipment familiarization with the Ukrainian military. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jeku)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support
Showing results 1 - 11 Page 1 of 1
Refine your search
Last Updated: April 12, 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