HONOLULU - Dr. Brian Lein, the Defense Health Agency's assistant director for health care administration, visited the newly established Hawaii Market here the week of Oct. 18.
Lein assists the DHA director in unifying the Military Health System, standardizing health care delivery across all military hospitals and clinics, and sustaining medical readiness of the armed forces.
During his time in Hawaii he toured each of the Military Treatment Facilities on Oahu to gain perspective of the unique capabilities, staff, and mission sets each MTF brings to the Hawaii Market.
“My goal is to meet the people and understand the culture,” said Lein. “We talk a lot about health care being local, and it is, but the challenges [the Hawaii Market] faces are different than the challenges Madigan Army Medical Center faces. To really understand how this [market] works you have to walk around the physical layout.”
The Hawaii Market encompasses Tripler Army Medical Center, Naval Health Clinic Hawaii, Desmond T. Doss Health Clinic, and the 15th Medical Group, and provides health care for 150,000 beneficiaries.
“Seeing [each MTF] from a patient perspective is important as we try to standardize as much as possible," Lein said. "You can’t say everything is cookie cutter and apply a system without walking the walk and seeing the ground.”
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act directed the DHA to provide oversight of military treatment facilities and standardize care across military medicine.
By establishing joint service health care markets globally, MTFs share patients, resources, and functions. This ensures patients receive the same safe, reliable care at any MTF regardless of location or service affiliation.
This concept is not new to Hawaii, which stood up as an enhanced Multi Service Market in 2013, making the transition to the market construct easier. Local MTFs already shared manpower, processes, and resources for nearly a decade.
“We’re not planning on changing anything from the patient’s perspective other than making it easier for them to access health care, get results, and get involved in the care that is provided,” said Lein. “Our goal is to make it easier for patients and beneficiaries…to access health care from anywhere. Moving between duty stations should be seamless. It should be plug-and-play from wherever they were to where they are going.”
On Oct. 20, Dr. Lein presided over the Hawaii Market Establishment Ceremony at Tripler Army Medical Center, recognizing the official establishment of the Hawaii Market. The ceremony marked the transition of administration, direction, and control of military medicine to the DHA.
Lein assured patients that this transition won’t look any different to them. If anything, it will improve processes and access to care, he said.
While the ceremony took place in October, the Hawaii Market officially stood up on July 26 alongside 10 other markets. This brings the total number of DHA markets to 17 out of 20.