Story by Douglas Stutz on 07/08/2019When Representative Derek Kilmer of Washington's 6th Congressional District visited Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) on July 1, 2019, his legacy of support for the military preceded his arrival.
"We've known and worked with Cong. Kilmer for many years and welcome him to our command. His involvement in the local community and his commitment to our military are well known," said Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, Naval Hospital Bremerton commanding officer.
Kilmer serves on the House Appropriations Committee and visited NHB to meet with senior leadership and receive first hand insight on the implementation of the new electronic health record MHS GENESIS, as well as the proposed plans for change occurring in the Military Health System and how that may impact NHB.
"We are honored to be the preferred choice for our patients to receive care. Although there are some transitional changes underway, one thing remains unchanged. Navy Medicine and the Defense Health Agency are fully committed to the care of our warfighters and their families; and to delivering operational readiness to the Fleet and Fleet Marine Forces around the globe" commented Bitterman.
Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Wooldridge, NHB chief medical informatics officer, along with Mr. Pat Flaherty, NHB chief information officer and information management systems head, provided an updated assessment on the implementation of MHS GENESIS.
MHS GENESIS is a single integrated electronic health record for service members, veterans and their families that integrates inpatient and outpatient medical and dental information across the continuum of care, from point of injury whether ship, shore, submarine, and squadron - to the military hospital or clinic. NHB was one of four sites in the Pacific Northwest, along with U.S. Air Force 92nd Medical Group at Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor and Madigan Army Medical Center, to deploy MHS GENESIS in 2017.
Wooldridge readily admitted that with any new electronic system, there were challenges, especially in the initial six months with network issues, configuration concerns, and training challenges. He stressed all of those issues have improved and we are only scratching the surface of what the new EHR can do.
"Many small changes have made MHS GENESIS much better. The initial purchase was not easily converted to handle the unique operational demands for military medicine, such as the need to provide mass immunizations. We have reconciled the system with more content and are much better than where we were," explained Wooldridge, adding that NHB was third of the fourth locales overall for MHS GENESIS, but the first site with a significant inpatient population.
"MHS GENESIS is very configurable as opposed to other systems. From that perspective, it is very flexible for us to use. We have made significant progress and improvements that will benefit future site rollouts. Having the DoD and VA on the same system in the future will be a big advantage for our patient population," stated Wooldridge.
Bitterman also clarified that NHB, much like other military treatment facilities, will be transitioning management and administration of health service delivery to the Defense Health Agency. That will help to standardize care and gain efficiencies across the enterprise. The move will also allow Navy Medicine to focus with renewed emphasis on readiness. To that end, Navy Medicine Readiness Training Commands (NMRTC) are being established to ensure medical personnel develop and maintain operationally relevant knowledge, skills, and competencies.
"Our mission is still the same. We will still provide the best care to our warfighters, active duty and retired, and their families. We are rededicating our focus on operational readiness. That's what we are in the business of doing: delivering a medically ready force and a ready medical force to support the operators. It is an honor and a sacred trust to care for nation's service members and their families." said Bitterman.