DESPITE START-UP CHALLENGES, ‘MHS GENESIS’ GAINS IN USER SUPPORT
Navy Lt. Lauren Alderson, a family medicine physician at Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor, Wash., much prefers the Defense Department’s new electronic health record system MHS Genesis, even in its testing stage, over the legacy AHLTA system it has replaced, so far, at four military medical facilities in Washington state.
MHS Genesis still needs capabilities added, software kinks eliminated and design changes made to achieve optimal workflows for every medical specialty. But it will improve staff efficiency over time and has improved patient safety, she said.
“For me, charting is much quicker. The open documentation in the patient portal is a huge benefit for patients to see, as part of their health care record and their health care in general. We can see lab [results] easier. We can communicate with each other and our nurses a lot easier. I can leave at the end of the day with no records or charts open because I’ve closed them all during encounters with patients. And that was huge for me,” Alderson said.
Admittedly Alderson might be more comfortable with MHS Genesis than some other providers testing the new system. In the past year, she has attended two conferences where Genesis’ full potential was displayed including enhanced wearable technology, virtually-delivered health care and clinical decision support.
“All this makes AHLTA look so antiquated, with how slow it is and how little you can do with it,” Alderson said. Genesis “really will allow us to grow into a very beautiful electronic health record. We just need to get it stabilized and working for us at the basic level, and then those other steps will come along.”
I asked to interview a care provider who has used Genesis for months after hearing conflicting reports of how satisfied staff are with the new system at IOC, or initial operational capability sites, in the Pacific Northwest.
In January Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, visited the first MHS Genesis test site, the hospital on Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and said the Department of Veterans Affairs might have made a mistake choosing to piggyback onto Genesis to replace its own legacy system.
Roe told me Fairchild physicians complained that so little patient data transferred to Genesis from AHLTA that providers would have to rely on both systems for years. This, Roe feared, would mean higher costs than planned and could hamper the efficiency of physicians if they frequently had to consult the old system for patient histories.
Lt. Alderson, however, said that hasn’t been her experience. Indeed, she hasn’t had to log on to AHLTA since Oak Harbor began testing Genesis last July.
The biggest challenge for care providers, said Col. Michael L. Place, commander of Madigan Army Medical Center, another IOC site for MHS Genesis, is learning how to use the new system optimally.
“Every clinic, every specialty, does things a little bit differently, so they have to explore how to make that work for them. Everything -- from entering data, to compiling data, and learning from the system to make themselves more efficient and improve performance -- it’s really a learning cycle they have to go through iteratively,” Place explained during a recent press conference that the Military Health System hosted to describe the latest developments with MHS Genesis.
Available by phone were executives responsible for implementing the $4.3 billion 10-year contract to modernize the military’s healthcare management system. Deployment is led by Leidos Inc., which is combining the popular commercial record systems of Cerner Millennium for medical and Dentrix Enterprise for dental care.
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