Technology key to approaching overhaul of Military Health System

Health technology will be critical to a planned overhaul of the Military Health System, which is expected to save the U.S. Department of Defense $2.4 billion over a six-year span, according to a DoD report.

The report, which was sent to members of the Senate and House Appropriations and Armed Services Committees late last month, outlines the consolidation of all IT services--including IT management, infrastructure and applications--under the management of a new Defense Health Agency, set to go live on Oct. 1. DoD expects to save $672 million via consolidation.

"Today, infrastructure services are provided by TMA, Army Medicine, Navy Medicine, Air Force Medical Service, JTF CAPMED, and other DoD organizations," the report's authors wrote. "In the future state, all HIT related infrastructure services will be under the management of the DHA. … The subsequent savings result from elimination of redundancy and standardization of IT infrastructure, increased use of commercial off-the-shelf products and the elimination of redundant or low-value IT applications with high sustainment costs."

Additionally, DoD anticipates savings of $787 million through the replacement of "expensive walk-in service centers" with toll-free call centers and "readily available Internet resources."

"These options are available 24/7 worldwide and more than 80 percent less expensive per encounter compared to the [TRICARE Service Centers]," the report's authors wrote.

DoD has come under heavy scrutiny for what appears to be an unwillingness to consider use of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs electronic health record, VistA, as a possible integrated EHR option. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014 proposes heavier oversight of the iEHR process, FierceGovernmentIT reported this week. Meanwhile, Tom Munnecke--one of the lead software designers for VistA--recently called out Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for not taking a patient-centric approach to the creation of the iEHR.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)
- check out the FierceGovernmentIT article