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Patient safety key to new medical records system

Madigan Commander

Published: 02:43PM November 30th, 2017

Regional Health Command-Pacific

Thomas McCaffery, acting assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs, provides keynote remarks during the MHS GENESIS Recognition Ceremony at Madigan Army Medical Center Nov. 15. The ceremony commemorated the deployment of the Department of Defense’s new electronic health record at its four initial fielding sites in the Pacific Northwest — Madigan, Naval Hospital Bremerton, Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor and Fairchild Air Force Base.

Our patients at Madigan Army Medical Center may have realized that we’ve slowed down the number of appointments we’re offering recently as we began implementing the Department of Defense’s new electronic health record, MHS GENESIS.

We purposely decided to reduce initial appointments, in line with the best practices of other hospitals who adopt new electronic health records, to give our patients our full attention while we also spend extra time learning the new system and trouble-shooting any problems we encounter.

While we are gradually increasing appointments as we become more proficient using the new system, keeping patients’ safety at the forefront of our decisions, we of course realize that our patients still need the same level of access to health care as always. That’s why I wanted to use this opportunity to share the whole spectrum of options our Madigan patients have to access health care.

But first I wanted to re-emphasize why we’re switching over to MHS GENESIS to begin with — using a single health care record across the DOD (that can be digitally shared with the Department of Veterans Affairs), as opposed to the multiple systems that military providers currently use, creates a more accurate and more complete health record with less chance for medical errors.

Enhanced patient safety is the key benefit of MHS GENESIS, hands down.

So, how can patients make appointments with MHS GENESIS? To start, patients can still schedule appointments by calling the appointment line at 800-404-4506. Our patients also have the option of calling their clinics directly or requesting appointments via the new Patient Portal —

For help on how to navigate the Patient Portal, patients can watch tutorial videos on Madigan’s Facebook page.

Because of our planned reduction in access, we sought and received permission to waive the need for referrals to TRICARE-approved urgent care centers and network primary care managers through Dec. 19. Active-duty family members can use these services at no cost, and retirees and their family members will only incur a $12 copay.

Active-duty patients still need to see their military providers for care. Patients can find a list of the TRICARE-approved urgent care centers in the area on Madigan’s website,

Of course, our Madigan emergency room is available 24-7 for emergencies. We do ask that if your health care need can wait for a visit to your provider or an urgent care center that you see those providers instead, as nonemergency visits extend the wait time at the emergency room for patients with emergent needs.

If you’re unsure if your health care concern should be seen by your primary care manager, urgent care or the emergency room, please call the nurse advice line at 800-874-2273, option 1. The nurse advice line remains available 24-7, and the experienced nurses who answer calls can help guide your health care decisions.

As we’ve transitioned to MHS GENESIS, we’ve encouraged feedback from our patients. Comments and messages on social media such as our Facebook page works great for feedback; we monitor our social media closely and work to respond to each comment or message.

Our patients can also call our patient experience office at 253-968-1145, option 4.

We will continue to open up more appointments as we become more proficient at using MHS GENESIS and as we refine the system to improve it not just for Madigan, but since we are one of the first sites to use it, for all of the DOD. By the time MHS GENESIS is completely rolled out across the DOD, service members and their families can receive care at any military facility — whether downrange, overseas, or stateside — and know that their records will follow them to their next location.

This unified health care is the future of the DOD, and we at Madigan are proud to be leading the way toward it.