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Coast Guard set to roll out new electronic health record system soon

Image of Hands typing on a computer. Click to open a larger version of the image. Coast Guardsman Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie, an information systems technician at the Base Seattle Electronic Support Detachment, works at his desk at Coast Guard Base Seattle, March 3, 2015. Guthrie was one of three Coast Guard members presented with the Copernicus Award in 2015, for his work in fiscal year 2014 (Photo by: Coast Guardsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross).

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Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS

The Coast Guard's electronic health records solution, MHS GENESIS, is officially expanding from four pilot sites to 14 clinics and 17 sickbays as the Pacific Area rollout prepares to go live at the end of August 2021. The wave deployment is a six-month long effort to collaborate with and train clinical staff to adopt the MHS GENESIS system within their clinics and sickbays.

"As we prepare to expand MHS Genesis beyond our pilot sites, I want to take the opportunity to thank the patients for their flexibility and our clinical staff for their diligence in making this project possible," said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Dana Thomas, director of Health, Safety, and Work-Life. "This effort is a huge undertaking under normal circumstances, and it is tremendous while in the midst of a pandemic."

Thomas is responsible for the Coast Guard's health care system of 43 clinics and 124 ashore and afloat sick bays. She added, "It demonstrates the Coast Guard's recognition that electronic health records are a valuable resource for our members and their families."

MHS GENESIS will provide a modern health record system for the Coast Guard's active duty personnel, reservists, and other beneficiaries who are eligible to receive care through the Coast Guard Health Service program. MHS GENESIS will streamline accessing and sharing patient information and will enhance patient record retrieval accuracy and facilitate the seamless exchange of health care information between many providers.

For example, a service member will have a single, comprehensive record shared and accessible between the Department of Defense, Veteran Affairs, and authorized commercial health care providers. Records are created at the time an individual becomes eligible for military healthcare (either as a dependent or newly accessed service member) and will extend through separation or retirement into veteran status for receipt of care through the Veterans' Health Administration.

The MHS GENESIS rollout began August 29, 2020, when all four West Coast pilot sites successfully launched the new electronic health record system. Training Center Petaluma Clinic, Base Alameda Clinic, Air Station Sacramento Clinic, and the Maritime Safety and Security Team 91105 San Francisco Ashore Sickbay were chosen as the four pilot sites due to the wide array of services performed and their proximity to the DOD sites currently launching the system.

MHS GENESIS features more than 40 different medical, dental, and pharmacy-specific solutions. This includes applications, interfaces, and modules utilized by physicians, optometrists, nurses, physical therapists, and other provider types to document, track and coordinate health care. Additionally, pharmacies will electronically receive the necessary prescription and clinical information for efficient order entry, refill, and dispensing processes. Another application within MHS GENESIS, Dentrix, is an all-inclusive dental record, treatment plan and appointment book solution enhancing the delivery of dental care to eligible beneficiaries.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Swati Singh, chief medical informatics officer, assigned to play a lead role in the eHRa program said, "MHS GENESIS is a great tool for collaborating with other providers and support staff. Our providers can look forward to having access to notes from across the Military Health System, to include geographically distanced Coast Guard clinics, about the various aspects of our patient's health, such as mental health, pharmacy, and dental details. MHS GENESIS will allow our medical staff to get a comprehensive picture of our patient's health, which in turn, will ensure we provide the best care."

Patients will find that MHS GENESIS enables more self-service access to their healthcare information. Once members are registered within MHS GENESIS system, they will have 24/7 secure access to personal health information and lab results through Patient Portal. The portal allows for the exchange of messages with providers and medical staff, prescription renewal requests, review of clinical notes, and certain lab and test results. Users can even access patient health education materials related to health concerns and medications.

Patients should expect to get information on how to access the patient portal and prepare for MHS Genesis in summer 2021 for members assigned within the Pacific Area and fall 2021 for members assigned within the Atlantic Area.

Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Cynthia Moneda, a patient at a MHS GENESIS pilot site shared her experience, "Once I accessed the system [MHS GENESIS Patient Portal], I was surprised to see how easy it was to navigate through the different dashboard items and drop-down menus. Also, when I had a question about my referral, I was able to email the provider [care team] directly and included the necessary attachments."

The Coast Guard will continue to maintain paper records for a two to three-year period until all records are digitized. Sites with MHS GENESIS will transition to documenting within the system and new information will not be added to paper records. The eHRa team notes that leading up to deployment, there will be a period where appointment times may be longer as clinic staff build their familiarity with the system, new workflows, and processes.

"The process of transitioning the Coast Guard's health records from paper to electronic is a tremendous undertaking. We will ensure that the rollout of MHS GENESIS to the Pacific and Atlantic waves goes as smoothly as possible," said Willie Davis, the eHRa program manager. "We learned a lot from our pilot sites and we have overcome a number of challenges initially faced during their deployment. At the end of the day, the care of our patients will be improved and that makes this transition worth doing."

The Atlantic Wave is scheduled to begin deployment activities in May with a MHS GENESIS go-live date, targeted for November 2021. The wave will cover 26 clinics and 48 sickbays.

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