Tracking training
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Bebita Caasi, a licensed practical nurse, notates an attendance chart for ongoing training sessions and learning activities being performed in preparation for the transition to MHS GENESIS, the Department of Defense's new electronic health record, at... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
All about patient care
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Normita Reyes
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Normita Reyes, a registered nurse, is California Medical Detachment's clinical nurse officer-in-charge in the Department of Primary Care. "We are prepping our staff to learn MHS GENESIS and we are ready to tackle this and communicate to our patients ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Zambrano measuring MHS GENESIS
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CALIFORNIA MEDICAL DETACHMENT, Presidio of Monterey, Calif. -- On Sept. 7, the California Medical Detachment, Presidio of Monterey, Calif., will transition to the Department of Defense's new unified electronic health record, MHS GENESIS. CAL MED is in the first wave of military treatment facilities, along with Travis and Mountain Home Air Force Bases and Naval Air Station Lemoore, to transition to the new health record.

"Everything being all-in-one means we don't have to use many separate systems for scheduling appointments, labs, secure messaging with our patients and so forth, which is great," said Bebita Caasi, a licensed practical nurse who has been with CAL MED for over 5 years. "I think it's going to be great; I have seen MHS GENESIS in comparison to other systems. I'm optimistic about the ability to do everything in one system," Caasi said.

"What so many systems by other vendors have promised before MHS GENESIS is actually coming to realization with this system. The thing that's really exciting is that we are going to have repetition, less redundant effort compared to using multiple systems to provide accurate care for our patients, and less room for errors" said Marlon Zambrano, CAL MED's workflow analyst and health systems specialist. "Going into two systems as we do now, for example, to schedule an appointment for a patient is very tedious and redundant -- it takes much less time to execute the same task accurately in MHS GENESIS. There's also less chance of errors since you aren't going between several systems. That is important to us and our patients. Secure messaging, which was previously on a separate system, will now all be within MHS GENESIS, which will be a huge increase in efficiency," Zambrano added.

Large-scale change inherently produces specific challenges, but for CAL MED, the goal of a seamless transition is well within reach. Through the patience of its beneficiaries, and the around-the-clock dedication of CAL MED's staff, the go-live preparation has been going as planned, with robust patient communications strategies and staff training that build on the experiences of previous implementation sites like Madigan Army Medical Center -- which CAL MED falls under.

"Communicating with our patient population has been key to the upcoming transition. Our leadership, tenant leadership, and the DHA (Defense Health Agency) has been very engaged with community outreach. We have been able to take advantage of having Madigan supporting us with insight from their 2017 go-live as a pilot site, sharing marketing resources and communication plans as well, which has been really helpful in setting us up for success," added Zambrano.

Implementing robust communication strategies, combined with outreach efforts to raise awareness in the community, CAL MED's patients are being informed on multiple fronts about the Sept. 7 go-live date. In order to accommodate its patients during the transition process, CAL MED is taking proactive measures to mitigate any time needed by staff to learn the new system and provide high-quality care to its beneficiaries.

"We're excited to start with MHS GENESIS. For the staff, having the ease of charting and being able to see patients comprehensively in a single system is going to drastically improve our workflows I think," said Normita Reyes, a registered nurse, who is CAL MED's clinical nurse officer-in-charge in the Department of Primary Care. "We are prepping our staff to learn this new system and we are ready to tackle this and communicate to our patients that this is a huge improvement from what we have now, which is exciting for us. DHA, as well as Madigan, has been really supporting us. All that support has been essential to our success so far," Reyes remarked.

Once fully deployed across all military treatment facilities, MHS GENESIS will have the ability to enable all military branches to use a single electronic health record. At that point, patients' records will be accessible at any MTF regardless of branch or location.

"I anticipate a lot of positive changes, especially how we will be able communicate with our patients. I like the fact that the pharmacy, lab, nurses, providers, and everyone here will be on the same system, so there is less room for lack of communication," said Hayley Griffin, a nurse practitioner with CAL MED's Department of Family Medicine, who also worked at Madigan Army Medical Center during its 2017 transition to MHS GENESIS. "I think once this system is fully deployed, it's going to make medical records seamless between military branches also. Right now there are specific records from some branches we can't access, MHS GENESIS will change that eventually," Griffin added.

CAL MED has approximately 9,000 enrolled patients and supports the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey, the Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Support Activity Monterey, the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, and U.S. Coast Guard Station Monterey.

CAL MED also operates the Major General William H. Gourley VA-DoD Outpatient Clinic in Marina, Calif., which opened in June 2017. The clinic replaced the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System's existing clinic to meet the growing healthcare need for veterans in the region. It is only the second fully integrated VA-DoD facility in the nation.

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