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Madigan selected for DOD review

Study to examine quality of care patients receive at 7 military medical facilities

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:37PM June 26th, 2014

The Department of Defense launched a broad review of the Military Health System last week, and officials made Madigan Army Medical Center one of their first stops.

The medical center, located on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is one of the largest of the seven facilities in the review. Madigan’s inclusion is a matter of geography, size and diversity of services, said Richard Breen, director of communications for the Military Health System, and not the result of an incident of any kind.

“Where are the facilities today,” Breen said, “and where are they going in the future?”

A team of experts led by Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work, is looking at how well beneficiaries can access care, patient safety and the quality of care.

Beneficiaries include service members, their family members and retirees.

The team has 90 days to complete its seven-facility review, but Col. Jerome Buller, director of communications for Army Medical Command’s Office of the Surgeon General, said that is enough time to review the military’s entire health system. All the data the team needs resides in the military health system’s extensive digital records.

“It would be different if we didn’t know all the data ahead of time,” Buller said.

Part of Madigan’s care accessibility scheme is the Patient-Centered Medical Home, a recent concept in the Military Health System that makes satellite medical facilities in neighborhoods more convenient to beneficiaries. Madigan has two, one in Lacey and one in Puyallup.

Buller said the PCMH model likely will influence on how Madigan’s practices are used in the review, but won’t be a primary factor.

“Madigan was not assessed because of that specifically,” Buller said.

The “access to health care” core area includes ensuring patients “will not have to travel excessive distances to receive required care,” according to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s memo on the review.

Breen added that Madigan’s location on a joint base, one of 12 in DOD, did not play a factor in its selection for review.

“In the Military Health System, a lot of our facilities already are joint, just as we fight on the battlefield,” Breen said.

Breen and Buller said they could not comment on exactly what the teams were looking at, but Breen said each facility’s medical personnel will answer the same questions, whether they are in medical centers or small clinics.

He also emphasized that the review would ascertain “best practices” among the facilities.

“Basically, we want to identify better qualities of service,” Breen said.

Buller said the team was treating evaluation categories equally, “within the realm of access to care, quality of care and patient safety, (the questions) cover every aspect. There is no targeted area within those.”

Officials held town halls Monday to interact with staff and patients. Buller said the military and Madigan are committed to transparency and accountability, and that the review is an opportunity to grow.

“We remain committed to delivering high-quality care,” Buller said, “and patient safety always is our highest priority.”