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Connected Health Hosts First DHA Digital Health Virtual Summit

Image of Graphic about the DHA Digital Health Virtual Summit. The Defense Health Agency Connected Health branch hosted the inaugural DHA Digital Health Virtual Summit (Courtesy of DHA Connected Health).

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The Defense Health Agency Connected Health branch hosted the inaugural DHA Digital Health Virtual Summit June 1 to provide insight on the accelerated world of digital health in the Military Health System.

"The promise and the challenge of digital health care in the MHS is to build a bridge to care anytime and anywhere to improve health and readiness," says Dr. Simon Pincus, chief of DHA Connected Health and host of the Digital Health Virtual Summit.

The event for MHS professionals included some of the most influential leaders in digital health within the MHS. The event was broken down into three sections, keynote and featured speakers, a patient perspective by a wounded solider about his experience with the MHS, and a solutions-focused roundtable.

Two key DHA leaders kicked off the day: Regina M. Julian, chief of DHA Healthcare Optimization, discussed how virtual health is a critical force multiplier to the health care delivery model strategy and described how optimizing the suite of virtual health capabilities supports great outcomes, enhances patient experience, reduces cost, and increases readiness.

Air Force Col. Thomas Cantilina, chief of DHA Health Informatics, provided his insights on how to achieve health care innovation for all by understanding the four pillars of health care encounters: time, place, provider, and patient.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Brian Lein, DHA assistant director of Health Care Administration. Lein brought the big picture to the summit by explaining that customer relation management goes beyond providing exceptional care to patients. It involves accepting that digital health is necessary and needs to be a part of clinical practice, he said. From chatting online with patients and video appointments, to remote monitoring devices and more, digital health is here to stay and making health care better.

"Providers are champing at the bit for us to develop a platform to do much, much, much more for digital patient engagement," Lein said.

Army Sgt. Ezra Maes was a guest speaker and provided the patient perspective to the Digital Health Virtual Summit. In 2018, the armor crewman was in a tank accident and self-amputated his leg to save his crew mates who were involved in the rollover accident.

He now receives virtual care at Brooke Army Medical Center, in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and will be transitioning his care to his local Department of Veterans Affairs, as he prepares for retirement. Maes had the unique experience of receiving care both in person and virtually during the evolution health care in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I was worried my care would take a back seat to the pandemic," Maes said. "But systems were quickly put into place to stay active in my care. With systems in place, it was truly amazing what you can do with virtual care."

To close out the event, Pincus moderated a roundtable of subject matter experts and solution owners, including Navy Capt. (Dr.) Konrad L. Davis, director of MHS Tele-Critical Care; Army Col. Sean J. Hipp, director of MHS Virtual Medical Center; Lt. Col. (Dr.) Maria M. Molina, chief of DHA Medical Modernization and Simulation; and Air Force Lt. Col. John DaLomba, solution owner of the MHS GENESIS Patient Portal.

Though each panelist had their own notable accomplishments, the one common factor was pulling together and finding their passion for providing better care to their patients. They also agreed that adapting to digital health was pivotal to their mission.

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