On Oct. 21, Madigan Army Medical Center will become the first large military hospital to transition to the Department of Defense’s unified electronic health record, MHS GENESIS.
The $4.3 billion system will, for the first time, enable all military branches to use one electronic health record. By the time that MHS GENESIS is fully implemented throughout all of the DOD, patients’ records will be accessible at any military treatment facility regardless of branch.
Madigan is a part of the first wave of military treatment facilities to begin using this new system, joining other military bases in the state — Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor and Naval Hospital Bremerton — as the pilot sites for MHS GENESIS.
“Madigan was selected because we have a tri-service representation in this area with a large active-duty population as well,” said Col. Eric Shry, Madigan’s site lead for MHS GENESIS. “We also have a history of forward-looking activities in the area of informatics and health information technology, leading things forward such as DOD (and Veterans Affairs) interoperability, new and emerging technologies, and technologies that impact medical care delivery for corpsmen, medics and forward-deployed medical personnel in all three services.”
With MHS GENESIS, patient safety will improve as records are more easily shared between providers. Through the Joint Legacy Viewer, a program compatible with MHS GENESIS, providers at the Department of Veterans Affairs and some community providers will be able to also view DOD patients’ records.
While many of the changes of MHS GENESIS will be behind the scenes, patients will notice the new Patient Portal, which replaces the secure messaging found in RelayHealth and many of the functions found on Tricare Online such as accessing test results and setting up medical appointments. Madigan patients will also be able to view provider notes and request prescription renewals online as well.
Patients will also be able to see and verify their patient contact information in the Patient Portal. The contact information found there, and used throughout MHS GENESIS, is automatically pulled from Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System; if patients need to update their patient contact information, they can visit the DEERS website at tricare.mil/deers.
Once Madigan transitions to MHS GENESIS, patients will be able to start using the Patient Portal, found at patientportal.mhsgenesis.health.mil. They can sign in through either their common access cards, their MyPay passwords or their DOD self-service logon passwords. If patients don’t have CACs or MyPay passwords, they can create DOD self-service logon accounts to use the Patient Portal.
Shry believes patients will come away impressed when they begin using the Patient Portal.
“This is one of the largest health record vendors in the entire world, and so this is just something that is very well developed over a long period of time, and it is so much better integrated into the records so that the information that they receive is much richer,” he said.
As Madigan transitions to MHS GENESIS, the staff will be putting some extra effort into becoming experts with the new system. During the first few weeks after the Oct. 21 transition, the pace at Madigan may slow down as it adopts MHS GENESIS, so leadership is asking for the help of patients to make the transition smoother.
Madigan’s outpatient appointments will be temporarily reduced at first, so patients are asked to schedule preventive exams and regular checkups before Oct. 21, if possible. In addition, the wait times at the lab and pharmacy may increase during this time, so patients may want to complete any lab tests before then and ask their pharmacists about how to make the transition easier, such as getting their routine prescriptions refilled beforehand.
Finally, if patients get referrals that are valid past Oct. 21, they may ask for hard copies of their referrals just to make the transition easier.
Madigan expects to be back to full capacity after a few weeks; following Madigan, other DOD health care sites will begin their transition to MHS GENESIS.
“As MHS GENESIS becomes more widespread, medical providers will have a single way of communicating across the whole DOD,” Shry said. “Patients’ health information won’t be held in one location, but instead it will be available everywhere they are.”