DHA Panel Discusses Digital Health Training and Education at AMSUS 2022

Health.mil | 2022-03-22

By Kelly Kollar, DHA Connected Health

Image of DHA panel discusses MHS digital health training and education at AMSUS 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Connected Health). Click to open a larger version of the image.
DHA panel discusses MHS digital health training and education at AMSUS 2022. (Photo: Courtesy of Connected Health)

Digital health is transforming the Military Health System, according to a panel of Defense Health Agency experts speaking at the annual meeting of AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals. The panel presentation, hosted by the DHA's Connected Health Branch, focused on training and education's role in health technology advancements.

"There has been a significant change in online teaching and training due to the pandemic with the evolution of [virtual] collaboration platforms." said Dr. Bob Marshall, program director for the Department of Defense Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Using virtual platforms in health care enables providers to see patients without the patient losing time away from work or commuting to appointments. The platforms allow specialists to access patients in remote areas without local specialty support.

"The DHA strategy aligns well with virtual health. We're not trying to replace face-to-face, but we can augment it. We can make it safer, so we can see people in between the needed face-to-face exams," said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Gary Legault, director, Virtual Medical Center Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Proper education and training is critical to providers for receiving the privilege and credentialing needed to use virtual health with patients.

"Part of our team at [the] Virtual Medical Center is to have nurse case educators to help guide providers, as well as peer experts, to help providers through this process," Legault said.

MHS Video Connect is the enterprise's new virtual health solution and the focus of some current provider training initiatives. MHS Video Connect is a simple to use video-to-video platform for providers and patients to connect virtually on any internet-connected device.

"MHS Video Connect is rolling out across the enterprise. It's almost everywhere in CONUS [continental U.S.] at this point, and it will continue to expand," Legault said.

As MHS Video Connect continues to roll out it will integrate more closely with other technology solutions, like the enterprise electronic health record.

MHS GENESIS is the DOD's new EHR. Currently, more than 50% of all MHS providers have transitioned from the legacy systems to MHS GENESIS.

"We're planning some significant improvement to the MHS GENESIS Patient Portal over the next several months, one of which is the Consumer Framework Uplift, which will enable us to make significant improvement to our pharmacy system, appointing, and a lot of other capabilities as well," said Air Force Lt. Col. John DaLomba, solutions owner, MHS GENESIS Patient Portal and MHS Video Connect, DHA Health Informatics.

"Most people think of clinical informatics as the electronic health record, the guys who do that, and in reality, that is just where we start," added Marshall. Clinical Informatics provides training and education on collecting, analyzing, and using the data from the EHR, supports clinical education at multiple levels, and designs software where usability and functionality is a priority.

The DHA's Education and Training Directorate focuses on patient empowerment through the Virtual Education Center, another upcoming digital health tool from the DHA.

"Most patients receive their clinical education at their [on-site] visit," said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Maria Molina, division chief, Medical Modernization and Simulation Division, Education and Training Directorate. "We want to have a way for patients to get information both before and after their clinic visit that is validated, and standardized, and easily accessible across the MHS."

The Virtual Education Center will ultimately integrate with the MHS GENESIS Patient Portal as a patient education solution.

Digital health continues to transform patient-provider communication and improve patient engagement in the MHS both at local military treatment facilities and across the DHA.

The recording of the panel discussion is available on the AMSUS website until March 31.