SEMBACH KASERNE, Germany -- The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the way Soldiers complete their Annual Periodic Health Assessments, commonly known as PHAs.The PHA is a preventive screening tool designed to improve reporting and visibility of Individual Medical Readiness (IMR) for all Soldiers.According to Regional Health Command Europe officials, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some minor modifications to the annual periodic health assessment, which is a two-part process:STEP 1: The first part of the PHA process is unchanged: service member completes an online questionnaire via Army Knowledge Online (AKO). To complete the online questionnaire, Soldiers should visit www.us.army.mil and then go to "Self Service" and then click on "My Medical Readiness."STEP 2: Visit with a provider either virtually (telephone or online) or face-to-face.“All Army clinics in theater are currently providing virtual PHAs, if the service members’ situation allows it,” said Col. (Dr.) Patrick Contino, chief of Clinical Operations, Regional Health Command Europe. “We’ve increased our virtual health capacity and will continue to utilize this capability much more in the future when patients’ medical needs can be safely met virtually.”During the “virtual” portion of the PHA, the provider will conduct a review of the Soldier’s current medical conditions and self-reported health status as well as any new complaints the Soldier might have. The provider then makes recommendations for improvement of any identified health conditions.Contino says once the COVID-19 situation improves and when other conditions have been met, Army medical treatment facilities will begin offering face-to-face PHAs for Soldiers who are on deployment orders, or who are in rapid recall units.“We will bring in more Soldiers for in-person examinations when physical distancing measures are less restrictive,” Contino added. “The exact timing of these changes may vary from installation to installation based on community infection rates, host nation medical facilities, and factors unique to each military treatment facility.”An overdue PHA can affect a Soldier’s deployment readiness.“PHA's are not waiverable and must be conducted annually,” said Contino. “In general, deployment requirements are standard medical readiness elements that require service members to have a completed PHA and additional medical standards to be “green” before deployment. Medical readiness is part of Soldier readiness, the number one priority for the commander. It is our responsibility to help ensure Soldiers are medically ready to deploy at all times.”For more information about PHA or deployment medical status, contact your primary care provider or visit HRC's PHA site.Related linksU.S. Army COVID-19 GuidanceArmy.mil: Worldwide NewsHRC: Periodic Health Assessment (PHA)Regional Health Command EuropeRegional Health Command Europe Virtual HealthArmy Medicine