MHS Embraces Leading-Edge Tech

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Posted by: Tommy J. Morris

Today we hear from Tommy Morris, director, Deployment Technologies & Support Programs FHP&R, who weighs in with thoughts on information technology and the new information systems that will play a critical role in the the MHS’s future successes. 


We’re at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. Soon, we’ll be making the ultimate decision in the direction we would like to see the country go as we head to the polls to vote for our next president. In the information technology (IT) world, we also find ourselves at a critical juncture. IT leaders and decision makers at companies and government agencies around the world are faced with the question: Should we continue on the pathways we are familiar with, or should we take a bold step to embrace the new and emerging commercial-off-the-shelf technologies that promise more flexibility and greater efficiency for our information systems?


I’m happy to say the Military Health System has chosen to take that bold step and methodically embrace new technologies that will improve the theater health-related information systems that support our service members.


One such step is the implementation of a service-oriented architecture, or SOA, design for our electronic health systems. What does this mean?  It means we can now begin to realize the benefits of the available cutting edge technologies in accelerating health care IT solutions to provide the best quality of care for our service members. 


Adopting a SOA approach allows us to rapidly and efficiently develop systems and services that share information critical to protecting and preserving the health of our deployed forces with a wide and varied audience in a format unique to their needs. For example, in just a few months, using SOA, we were able to establish a secure Web service connection between the Theater Medical Data Store, or TMDS, (TMDS is the authoritative source for electronic health records of deployed forces) and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ VistA medical information system. Now, when a veteran or service member receives care in a VA hospital, the VA can request, through VistA a record of the treatment they received in theater, and it will be instantaneously delivered from TMDS and displayed on their VistA system.


Access to treatment history allows the VA health care providers to make better decisions about the care they provide our veterans, which ultimately results in better care and better health outcomes.  Similarly, in just a few months the DoD was able to establish a web service with the Social Security Administration to support the benefits process for disabled veterans. 

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