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Transformation Office to Streamline Military Health System

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2005 – Servicemembers can rest easy that their health care benefits will only improve with the chartering of the Military Health System Office of Transformation, the director of the new office said today.

"It's important that servicemembers and (their) families know that they are meant to be the focus of this patient-oriented system of the future," Rear Adm. John Mateczun, Navy deputy surgeon general, said. "There is no intent to lessen the health care delivery that they would see today."

He said patients of the military health care system should notice a more patient-focused manner of delivering service.

The Defense Department announced Aug. 31 that acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England had chartered the new office to reform military health services. Eight people will make up the new office: two each from the Army, Navy and Air Force, and two from the Tricare Management Activity.

Mateczun likened changing the system to building a house. What is to be included in the house as well as the materials to be used must be decided upon, he said.

"(And) you still have to have somebody transform that into a plan so that the contractors and subcontractors will know exactly what to do," he said. "That's what the Office of Transformation's job is going to be. It's kind of like an architect. It's taking the building blocks that have been put together and then drawing the plan."

From that plan, he said, a team that includes the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the services and the Tricare Management Activity will be able to build that new military health system of the future. They will get their raw materials, or building blocks, from the base realignment and closure process, local working group recommendations and medical readiness review initiatives, Mateczun said.

"When all those building blocks come together, you'll have actually four or five different views of how the system needs to transform," he continued. "What (this) office will do will be to take all of those and put them together into a blueprint that the team ... (will evaluate to) make sure that we build the system that we need for the future."

That future, he said, is a military health system that is efficient and can capitalize on the new technologies and drugs that are a result of a constantly changing American health system.

"We want to maintain the very high standard of both battlefield care and the health care systems we have today worldwide," Mateczun said. "But at the same time, make sure that we're doing it as efficiently as we can (by) being good stewards of the money that the American people provide."

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Gordon England
Rear Adm. John M. Mateczun, USN

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