Sept. 8, 2020 —
The Coast Guard is rolling out electronic health records, beginning with four pilot sites on the West Coast. The new military health system’s MHS GENESIS will enable the Service to transition from paper records to a state-of-the-art system with an impressive array of benefits for both patients and health-care providers.
“MHS GENESIS will be a technological leap forward for us. It will be a game-changer for our patients and staff as we transform the delivery of health care to increase readiness and quality across our enterprise,” said Rear Adm. Dana Thomas, who is responsible for the Coast Guard's health care system of 43 clinics and 124 ashore and afloat sick bays, among other duties.
Initial use of the system began last week at these four sites: Training Center Petaluma Clinic, Base Alameda Clinic, Air Station Sacramento Clinic, and the Maritime Safety and Security Team 91105 San Francisco Ashore Sickbay.
Following the DOD migration strategy, additional clinics will adopt the MHS Genesis platform, working from PACAREA to LANTAREA. All 43 CG clinics and 66 ashore sick bays are slated to be fully operational by fiscal year 2023 (FY23).
“Coast Guard clinics will have patient information consolidated in one place for the first time,” said Lt. Cmdr. Swati Singh, M.D., the Coast Guard’s chief medical informatics officer.
Patients will be able to go online to request refills and review their doctors’ notes. “The Patient Portal feature is going to be very empowering,” said Singh, who is part of the MHS Genesis implementation team.
“Allowing patients to have more control over their own health care is going to be a great benefit to us [here in the clinics],” said Lt. Kate Svenson, clinic administrator at Base Alameda.
MHS GENESIS will also enable Coast Guard health-care providers to seamlessly exchange patient records with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), and many civilian specialists.
“Electronic records will allow information sharing for safer patient care,” Singh said. “We will have the ability to see members’ prescriptions regardless of who prescribes them and more accurately identify drug interactions. We can also evaluate population health outcomes, meaning we can study the health outcomes of a group of individuals.”
Chief Warrant Officer Wanda Watts, clinic administrator at Training Center Petaluma Clinic, also gave us her thoughts on the new system. “I am looking forward to the use of significantly less paper and the ease at which providers can access members’ full medical records in all medical treatment facilities and the VA.”
In addition to ashore care, another phase of MHS Genesis will provide tools for underway and deployable care documentation. Each stage of the rollout is choreographed to make sure everything goes smoothly with implementing training, policy changes, new equipment, and upgrade of information technology to meet the data standards for a secure electronic exchange of medical and patient data.
“There are a lot of different aspects to get this program up and running,” said Chief Petty Officer Megan Long, a member of the electronic health records acquisition team.
Long and her team members have been working closely with the Defense Health Agency, which has already deployed pilot sites and can now share lessons learned and provide valuable resources.
“To make this launch successful, clinic staff at the Coast Guard pilot sites have been working really hard,” said Long. “They have had increased workloads due to COVID-19 while dealing with constant schedule changes, and they were still able to position us for an on-time Go-Live.”
Svenson agrees that her clinic and others have put in a lot of work, despite the unique circumstances. “I have been impressed with our corpsmen who continued to train and get ready to push this forward despite the pandemic and now the wildfires.”