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Release No: 444-04
May 11, 2004

DoD Meets, Exceeds White House E-Health IT Standards

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced today that it is meeting or exceeding the standards recently set by President Bush that establishes a national goal of assuring that most Americans have electronic health records within 10 years. Along with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), DoD is participating in another of the presidents health technology goals, the consolidated health informatics (CHI) initiative to identify appropriate existing data standards and to endorse them for use across the federal health care sector.

Adoption of these standards will increase our ability to share medical data within the health community, said Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, at the HHS secretarial summit on health information technology convened in Washington last Thursday. Interoperability through standards will enable us to share electronic patient records which will improve the quality of health care. Better access to medical information means improvements in patient safety and military medical readiness, and a reduction in health care costs.

The CHI initiative is part of President Bushs e-Gov initiatives, which includes a cross-government effort to develop a federal health architecture that would encompass the CHI standards, as well as compatible software and business systems to promote efficient, effective communication to improve quality of care. DoD meets or exceeds eight of the presidents nine information technology goals released April 26, and is a U.S. government leader in health information technologies.

We have been working diligently on the electronic transformation of the military health system (MHS), said Winkenwerder. For more than 10 years, we have had a computerized physician order entry capability that enables our providers to order lab tests and radiology exams and issue prescriptions electronically.

DoD continues to work towards an all-encompassing electronic health record for the MHS. Jim Reardon, chief information officer for the military health system, notes, In January 2004, we began our worldwide rollout of the next generation system the Composite Health Care System II (CHCS II). Its a secure, scalable, patient-centric world-class electronic health record that enables providers to leverage the power of computers to improve the quality of health and safety of our beneficiaries. CHCS II now has more than 1.3 million patient encounters recorded and available from its database.

DoDs Pharmacy Data Transaction Service links military treatment facilities, mail-order, and network pharmacies -- enabling providers at all military and civilian pharmacies to track nearly 400,000 daily medication transactions, and check for drug allergies and drug interactions. Because beneficiaries have come to rely more and more on the Internet for information and services, the department has developed Tricare Online, a secure Web portal through which our 8.9 million beneficiaries and physicians can access 18 million pages of verified health information and schedule appointments. More features will be coming online soon.

The defense medical logistics program is a cornerstone of the MHS military medical operations that enables personnel to order and track equipment, supplies and pharmaceuticals. This is an award-winning program that provides 24-hour turn around and response times and provides the department with tremendous cost savings.

In addition to the efforts with HHS CHI initiative, the MHS is collaborating on a number of initiatives with the VA by sending electronic records on all military members to VA at the time of separation, and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the BioSense project to aid detection of possible epidemics or chemical or biological incidents for the Department of Homeland Security.

Leaders in health care recognize that achieving the safest and highest quality of care will require significant enhancements in the use of health information technologies. This includes strategies to permit sharing of patient data within the health communities. Both the DoD and VA are committed to achieving the presidents mandate.

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