FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS -- In a ceremony held recently at the U.S. Army Medical Information Technology Center (USAMITC) commander's office, Lt. Col. Beverly Beavers presented a letter of appreciation on behalf of Air Force Maj. Gen. Byron Hepburn, 59th Medical Wing Commander to Angela Ross, USAMITC's Chief Medical Information Officer. Ross received this letter for the outstanding support she provided while serving as a USAMITC project manager during the Essentris® Clinical Suite deployment at Wilford Hall Medical Center (WHMC) from August 2010 to February 2011.

The letter reads, in part:
"The support and leadership you provided was nothing short of phenomenal. This was the most complex Essentris® project completed to date in the Department of Defense. Setting up a single system for Wilford Hall and Brooke Army Medical Centers has laid the ground work for future multi-facility projects. Without your help we would not have completed this monumental project. Thanks again for your outstanding support."

Essentris® is an in-patient electronic health record system with a standardized database that allows for standardized usage across all Army medical treatment facilities (MTFs), for all beneficiaries. This includes active duty, National Guard, Reserves, dependents and retirees. This clinical information system is the counterpart of the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA) which is the Military Health System (MHS) outpatient electronic health record.

In an effort to streamline and ensure efficiency in maintaining Soldiers' medical records, USAMITC, in partnership with the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) and the MHS, recently completed deployment of the Essentris® system to Brooke Army Medical Center and all other Army MTFs throughout the world.

The Navy and Air Force were also deploying their Essentris® counterparts, resulting in system standardization of the in-patient electronic medical record across the Department of Defense. This includes uniformed personnel, dependents and retirees in all branches. The Air Force asked USAMITC to deploy Essentris® to WHMC because of the success of the Army Essentris® deployment, and because of the Base Realignment and Closure actions resulting in shared patients and shared staff between BAMC and WHMC in San Antonio.

"We met with the Air Force leadership to make sure they understood our Essentris® deployment process, because that's what we brought to the table," said James Hickey, USAMITC's Project Director Branch Chief and Ross' supervisor at the time. "Our process worked, which is why the Air Force approached us in the first place," he added.

"When a system is put in place, it needs to be customized for each hospital division to make it work for them; otherwise, the clinical staff end up working for the system instead of the system working for them," Hickey said.

This deployment to Wilford Hall with its customization is where Ross factored in as a USAMITC Project Manager and the sole lead of the project. "The Air Force saw how we deployed Essentris®, and they wanted that same type of customer service, organization and collaboration between BAMC, Wilford Hall and the healthcare team," said Ross. "Two hospitals had never been pulled together like that before." Ross, as part of the Department of Defense Essentris® team, said they all planned and worked together and collaborated on the WHMC deployment.

"She went in to learn Wilford Hall's system work flow so that our Essentris® process would be customized for Wilford Hall and work for them accordingly," Hickey said. "In spearheading this deployment, Ms. Ross was very diligent and resourceful in finding out what each hospital division needed."

On Ross being awarded this letter, Hickey summed it up by saying, "Resourceful planning and innovative scheduling allowed Ms. Ross to deploy Essentris®, the in-patient electronic medical record -- on time, schedule and budget to Wilford Hall, a major medical center. She also provided on-site project manager services and assisted with business process re-engineering for the admission and discharge services," he concluded. When asked what receiving this letter meant to her, Ross responded modestly, saying, "This wouldn't have been possible without the help of the Wilford Hall Essentris® project management team."