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Release No: 461-99
October 05, 1999

MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM COMPLETES END-TO-END TESTING - Success Reflective of Department-wide Attention to Y2K Repairs

The Department of Defense today announced the successful completion of Y2K end-to-end testing of each of the primary areas in the Military Health System: patient care, patient administration and medical logistics.

Testing for medical logistics was completed on Sept. 30, 1999 with a final success rate of 100 percent. Evaluators administered more than 500 test transactions. End-to-end testing for the other two areas, patient administration and patient care with over 8,500 transactions, was completed on July 9 with the same results.

"The successful results from these tests validate the tremendous efforts we have taken to prepare for Y2K," said Dr. Sue Bailey, assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs. "These results underscore confidence in our ability to continue the delivery of quality healthcare services irrespective of Y2K."

To ensure the validity of the testing procedures, the Department of Defense Inspector General and the General Accounting Office provided independent oversight of the testing.

End-to-end tests are designed to ensure seamless operations between interconnected computerized systems during year 2000 date changes. The Military Health System conducted these tests on clusters of systems critical to the delivery of high quality health care. Functions within each of the tested areas were evaluated to guarantee normal operations during several date transitions, such as the fiscal year change (Oct. 1, 1999), calendar year, and leap year (Feb. 29, 2000).

Managed care support contractors and medical supply vendors also participated in the end-to-end testing. Their participation was crucial to ensuring that certain MHS systems would continue to work in conjunction with the contractors' systems.

During the testing, technicians set system dates forward to the year 2000. Then actual system users tested the systems by simulating patient transactions. Next, they re-evaluated the systems for continued operations without disruption due to the date change.

Simulations included enrolling patients in TRICARE, checking beneficiary eligibility, accessing computerized medical information, verifying immunization data, and processing patients' claims. Testing included some non-MHS systems that are important to beneficiary transactions, such as the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

"Providing quality patient care is our highest priority and I am proud of the proactive approach our people have taken to ensure that the Military Health System is ready for the new millennium," said Dr. Bailey. "The department is in the forefront of the healthcare industry in its preparations for the year 2000."

With end-to-end testing completed, the next task is to finalize the MHS Situation Awareness Team. This group of experts will monitor the response of military health systems to actual year 2000 transition dates.

The Y2K date processing problem stems from the widespread use throughout the computer industry of 2-digit rather than 4-digit numbers to represent the year in software and hardware. Y2K compliant systems distinguish the year 1900 from the year 2000 and continue to operate normally.

More information on the Military Health System's Y2K efforts is available at www.tricare.osd.mil/y2k.

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