DoD showcases IT arsenal at HIMSS

February 23, 2004

The Department of Defense bivouacked this week at the HIMSS meeting to demonstrate its IT expertise, including its Composite Health Care System II (CHCSII), probably the largest electronic medical records systems in the world. It is expected to be fully

The Department of Defense bivouacked this week at the HIMSS meeting to demonstrate its IT expertise, including its Composite Health Care System II (CHCSII), probably the largest electronic medical records systems in the world. It is expected to be fully deployed worldwide by the summer of 2006.

The DoD's EMR arsenal currently contains records for nearly 9 million beneficiaries worldwide.

What many civilian enterprises are only just now contemplating, the Military Health System (MHS) has been using for years. The MHS deployed a computer-based physician order entry (CPOE) system more than 12 years ago, enabling physicians to electronically order and document tests and imaging exams, order prescriptions, and record appointments.

Over 95% of all medicines prescribed in the MHS are ordered electronically, compared to about 6% in the civilian sector.

MHS is eliminating the paper chart with a patient centric medical record that includes not only the functions of CPOE, but also documents everything from a patient's physical exam to test results, medication history, and doctor's notes.

The CHCSII is an enterprise-wide medical and dental clinical information system that generates, maintains, and provides secure online access to comprehensive health records.

In addition to using the EMR in service hospitals and clinics, the DoD is also sending its EMR into battle. Military physicians in Iraq are using a version on laptop computers.

"Having immediate access to health data lets us do a better job of caring for patients," said Lt. Col. Bart Harmon, an Army physician and deputy director, Information Management, TRICARE Management Activity.

The DoD system also tracks trends. For instance, if military medics notice a number of soldiers presenting with similar symptoms, they can use computerized records to help determine whether the complaints are related, say, to chemical or biological weapons exposure.

TRICARE Online, another DoD electronic system, enables military beneficiaries to schedule appointments online; search medical resources for provider details, DoD benefits, and claims; check drug interactions; and create personal health journals.

Soon, military patients will be able to refill prescriptions online, send email messages to their physicians, and set appointment reminders.

The site is proving to be popular with patients. In the four months since inception, 28,750 appointments have been made through TRICARE Online.