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Military Health System to link market services

Published: 01:00PM March 13th, 2014

For the past 24 months, the Department of Defense has been transforming the way military health care is delivered. The department’s goals are ultimately to ensure a health care delivery system that integrates the efforts of all the services toward more efficient and effective operation, leading to a system of health that ensures the delivery of high value healthcare to our patients.

The DOD has taken on several major initiatives as a means to achieve the intended outcomes. The first was to create the Defense Health Agency to initiate reform efforts that consolidates and standardizes common shared services within the Military Health System to produce more effective and efficient enterprise capabilities. The reforms also focus on improving the delivery and coordination of health services in six geographic “market” areas with significant military presence, called “Enhanced Multi-Service Markets.”

These eMSMs are taking shape in the Puget Sound, the National Capital Region, San Antonio, Colorado Springs, Hawaii, and Virginia. Together, the eMSMs and the DHA will work to create a more integrated health care delivery system.

The military treatment facilities in western Washington state — Madigan Army Medical Center, the 62nd Medical Squadron clinic at McChord Field, Naval Hospital Bremerton, and Naval Hospital Oak Harbor — are each part of the Puget Sound eMSM, over which Brig. Gen. John Cho, the commander of Western Regional Medical Command at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is the service lead in an Army-led market.

Cho, serving as the market manager of the Puget Sound eMSM, will implement a market approach to advance the health of the military population, execute a five-year business performance plan to improve care, allocate market funding where the need is greatest and ensure best practices across facilities to build a better system for health.

Cho and the eMSM team have developed a campaign plan outlining the vision ahead and the expected outcomes. The plan will empower hospital staff members to work together, encouraging entrepreneurialism, to think outside the box to make the Defense Department’s system for health increase military readiness; improve the health of service members, retirees and families; improve their delivered medical care; and lower the cost of doing business.

The efforts of the eMSM will be much more visible to commanders, physicians, specialists and staff than to the more than 285,000 patients and beneficiaries in the region – our teams will be collaborating in new ways to see patients, such as tele-health and electronic messaging between patient and provider. While patients and beneficiaries may see some changes, our obligation is to deliver an eMSM that is fully optimized, with integrated capability to produce the highest value and quality primary care, specialty care and GME programs resulting in the patient’s preferred system of choice while transforming from a health care system to a “System for Health.”

Furthermore, the Puget Sound eMSM business plan will support our collective mission to ensure the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are medically ready, while concurrently ensuring ready medical forces, optimizing our healthcare platforms in order to sustain the currency, or wartime clinical skills, of providers, nurses, and other clinical personnel.

This plan will maximize the effective use of resources within the each of our military treatment facilities — our direct care system — and lay the foundation necessary to transition from simply providing health care to considering the health of our entire beneficiary population. We are privileged to provide the necessary initiatives and programs to support healthy behaviors in everyone.

Navy Capt. Jim Thralls is the deputy market manager of the Puget Sound Enhanced Multi-Service Market.