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Health IT team working on creating an information ecosystem

Health IT team working to create ecosystem of information for patients, providers. Highly interactive environment benefits patients, providers

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Imagine driving to an appointment at a military treatment facility. As your arrival is captured by a virtual perimeter, or geofence, a smart phone alert directs you to an open parking spot. At the same time, the primary care manager, or PCM, receives an alert with your estimated time of arrival. If the PCM has a backlog of patients, you receive an alert redirecting you to a physician who’s available to review your records and meet with you as soon as you’re inside the building.

During your appointment, the PCM determines that you need medication. As you’re checking out, you receive an alert that a prescription’s being filled, with walking directions from your current location to the pharmacy. Meantime, your electronic calendar is syncing with the providers’ to schedule a follow-up appointment. If you have any questions, you can easily send a secure message or arrange a video chat.

This experience isn’t merely wishful thinking. It could become reality, thanks to the Military Health System’s health information technology team. HIT is working on innovations that improve patient satisfaction and care while enhancing safety, security, and privacy.

Shannon Hagy, president of the Bethesda, Maryland, chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, presents Mark Goodge, the Military Health System’s chief technology officer, with the InnovateIT Outstanding Achievement Award-DoD. (Courtesy photo)  Shannon Hagy, president of the Bethesda, Maryland, chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, presents Mark Goodge, the Military Health System’s chief technology officer, with the InnovateIT Outstanding Achievement Award-DoD. (Courtesy photo)

One of those innovations is complex event processing, which is depicted in the above scenario. Mark Goodge, chief technology officer of the Military Health System, describes it as “taking the ‘eaches’ – each little thing that’s done individually – and linking them to create an ecosystem of information.”

This ecosystem enables providers, patients, and even the facility itself to respond to various conditions, said Goodge, who’s also division chief for HIT innovation and advanced technology.

“Some of this technology is already available,” said Andrew “Jake” Jacobs, the Defense Health Agency’s chief of strategy and planning for innovations and advanced technology development.

Linking it is the difficult part. A typical treatment facility has more than 20 information technology systems. They include business processes for admissions and billing; information flows, such as patients’ electronic health records; and data reporting and analytics to measure clinical procedures and patient outcomes.

“We’re working on the ability to combine data from a variety of sources to enable actionable decisions and create a cohesive view of what’s happening at any particular medical treatment facility,” Jacobs said.

HIT works with its business partners to turn their ideas for innovation into reality. Part of HIT’s role is to consider not only the impact of the innovation itself, but also any second-order effects. “It’s like dominoes,” Goodge said. “One action sparks a chain of events.”

Health information technology innovation is a particularly complex orchestration, Goodge said. “Think about it like ducks moving through water. On the surface, everything looks so smooth and easy, but down below, their feet are moving really fast.”

Last month, Goodge was awarded the InnovateIT Outstanding Achievement Award-DoD from the Bethesda, Maryland, chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. He was honored for leveraging technology to help improve health care tools for MHS providers worldwide.

“We’re in a very data-driven environment today,” he said, “and it’s not going to slow down. We always need to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

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