The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of State (DoS) announced they have reached an agreement to begin a pilot project to determine if the DoD electronic health record system, AHLTA is a feasible system for DoS to adopt as its electronic health record system of the future.
DoS selected AHLTA over other electronic medical records because of its robust functionality, proven reliability in remote and austere environments, and compliance with tough DoD security standards.
While operating AHLTA in remote areas under austere communication conditions, DoD healthcare providers routinely record and transmit patient healthcare information from overseas areas of operation to medical treatment facilities in the United States, a requirement that DoS has with its overseas facilities.
“This collaboration and the prospect of extending the reach of our worldwide health information technology network is an important step in building a universal healthcare information delivery system, Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs said. “AHLTA has transformed the way we practice medicine in DoD. We look forward to sharing our implementation experience and the benefits AHLTA provides with another federal department and a new global healthcare partner.”
This ground breaking federal partnership is the first of its kind and allows both departments to partner in ways unforeseen even a few years ago. If all goes according to plan, the DoS anticipates AHLTA will eventually be used to support DoS beneficiaries abroad, many of whom seek treatment at both DoS and DoD facilities.
DoD personnel receiving care in U.S. embassies will now have continuity of their lifelong medical record. DoS medical personnel will have access to vital medical information globally at the point of care, improving quality and reducing health care costs.
In addition, domestic deployment of AHLTA will allow DoS much better real-time access to quality measures and epidemiological surveillance, both crucial issues facing healthcare managers.
“We here at State view this as win-win, insofar as we can tap into the development expertise and prior deployment experience that the DoD has invested in AHLTA, and for the first time DoD will begin to electronically capture the healthcare encounters their personnel receive at our embassies abroad. In addition, the taxpayer wins whenever governmental bodies work together rather than reinventing expensive wheels,” Dr. Laurence Brown, DoS medical director.
AHLTA provides a comprehensive, computer-based patient record for all military health beneficiaries, regardless of their location. It ensures healthcare providers have instant access to invaluable medical information about their patients. AHLTA was developed by incorporating commercial-off-the-shelf technologies, integrating and fine tuning them to perform the complex functions that a comprehensive electronic health record system provides.
“AHLTA is the result of an extraordinary partnership among the military services, federal employees, contract personnel and our industry partners working together to build systems that not only make healthcare safer and information more accessible, but have the potential to literally save lives,” said Carl Hendricks, chief information officer of the Military Health System.
In August 2005, more than one million individuals lost their paper medical records as a consequence of Hurricane Katrina. But all MHS beneficiaries who fled the storm and checked into medical treatment facilities hundreds of miles from their Gulf Coast homes received seamless care because providers were able to access their EHR.
AHLTA ensures valuable, life-saving beneficiary information is always accessible and records are durable, complete, accurate and legible—a major advancement over the paper record. Implementation of AHLTA began in January 2004 was completed in December 2006 and supports more than 9.1 million beneficiaries worldwide.