Making Electronic Medical Records Devices Work Together in the Military Health System

[author type="author"]Robert E. Connors[/author]

[image align="right" caption="Transitioning medical records to an electronic format helps protect personal information and decrease the cost of transferring paper records. Here, SPC Jose Gonzalez (left) and SGT Jeffrey Cook inventory the thousands of medical records in the Mannheim, Germany, Army Health Clinic in preparation for its closure on Sept. 30, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Dijon Rolle, U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Wuerttemberg Public Affairs.)" linkto="/web/wp-content/uploads/original-compressed6.jpg" linktype="image"]“/web/wp-content/uploads/original-compressed6.jpg” height=”167″width=”246″[/image]

In the military, it is rare that families or individuals remain in one place for an extended time, with the frequent travel and relocations to new duty station. To provide the best care for its beneficiaries, DoD’s health care system, like many civilian health care providers, is using medical devices and electronic health records to track and treat patients.

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Joint Program Committee-1 (JPC-1) Medical Training and Health Information Sciences Research Program and Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) are collaborating with the TRICARE Management Activity staff to lead a working group focused on developing acquisition language and policies to improve medical device interoperability and safety and to reduce costs.

The electronic health record ensures that important medical information stays with the patient regardless of location, which is a tremendous advancement in patient care. Information about patients can be transmitted between medical devices and from medical devices to an electronic health record. Interoperability between the devices and records is vital; both must work to provide a benefit to patients and providers.

[image align="left" caption="Serving to heal ... Honored to serve the medical needs of our military through acquisition, logistics, and technology" linkto="/web/wp-content/uploads/mrmc-COMBO.jpg" linktype="image"]“/web/wp-content/uploads/mrmc-COMBO.jpg” height=”167″width=”246″[/image]

For medical devices to share information, they must be connected to a network, much as computers transmit information via the Internet. Just as computers can be hacked, the security on medical devices can also be breached if the network is not secured. Electronic health records contain vital patient information, also known as personally identifiable information, including names, addresses, birth dates, and Social Security numbers. While the information collected and shared by medical devices and electronic health records is needed to treat patients, it must be kept secure.

DoD has an immense interest in keeping this information not only safe and secure but also reliable and accurate. JPC-1 identifies the needs of the Military Health System and applies funding and resources, in this case TATRC’s, to address those needs. The work being done by JPC-1, TATRC, and TRICARE ensures that medical devices and medical records used to treat and track military beneficiaries are safe, reliable, and capable.


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  • ROBERT E. CONNORS, a retired U.S. Navy Commander, is an Executive Health Information Technology Manager at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. He is assigned as a government asset to U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, Fort Detrick, MD. Connors has 32 years of leadership experience in the Military Health System. He holds an M.S. in information systems management and a Master of Health Administration from The George Washington University. Connors maintains credentials as a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Project Management Professional.

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