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Defense Health Agency Kicks Off Health IT Symposium

Image of Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez, Department of Defense’s assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, spoke at the 2023 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium on Aug. 8, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez, Department of Defense’s assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, spoke at the 2023 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium on Aug. 8, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Leaders in government, military, and industry health information technology convened at the 2023 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium on Aug. 8, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Defense Health Agency sponsored the IT symposium, which focuses on the latest health IT information, research, and studies focused on the symposiums theme, “Pursuing Enterprise Standardization—Joint, Resilient, Excellent.” 

Flanders-IT-Symposium2023Pat Flanders, program executive officer medical systems/chief information officer for the Defense Health Agency, gave the opening remarks at the 2023 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium on Aug. 8, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. (credit: Robert Hammer, Military Health System)

Pat Flanders, program executive officer medical systems/chief information officer for the DHA, delivered opening remarks while addressing the newly released DHA Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2023 to 2028. He also highlighted recent accomplishments and future efforts for health IT across the DHA.

“One of the most significant factors contributing to rapid improvement in health care today has been taking advantage of advances in technology,” said Flanders. “The DHA has come a long way over the last three years. We must now leverage technological innovations in support of DHA Director Army Lt. Gen. Crosland's initiative to evolve how we deliver care and meet our patients wherever they are around the world.”

Flanders stressed the importance DHITS because it allows attendees to meet in person and “engage in lively discussion and grow relationships with colleagues from around the DHA.”

The symposium provides an opportunity for knowledge sharing, innovative ideas, discussions of lessons learned, and the introduction of new IT developments within the MHS.

The event features presentations on a range of topics including enterprise standardization, patient experience, data analytics, operational medicine, cyber security, innovation, and business.  

The first day of the symposium’s plenary sessions continued with Department of Defense and DHA senior leaders highlighting how the agency intends on creating a technological-driven future ensuring patient-centered care.

Plenary sessions for the day were led by Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez, DOD’s assistant secretary of defense for health affairs; Dr. Michael Malanoski, deputy director of the DHA; and Donald Johnson, assistant director of support for the DHA.

Awards-IT-Syposium-2023 Defense Health Agency’s leaders presented some awards to three DHA teams for their work in auditability compliance, cyber security, and rationalization/alignment of resources in military hospital and clinics at the 2023 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium on Aug. 8. (credit: Robert Hammer, Military Health System)

During his keynote address, Martinez-Lopez shared the significance of bringing health IT professionals together to collaborate.

“It’s always good to bring the people working hard every day together to further the mission of the MHS,” said Martinez-Lopez.

He noted IT tools like artificial intelligence and others can help improve the health system “from being provider-centric to more patient-centric.”

“Only through collaboration and information sharing will we harness the capability of artificial intelligence to its maximum benefit, while safeguarding the privacy of our patients,” said Martinez-Lopez. “My challenge to each of you is to break down organizational barriers, embrace collaboration, share what you’re learning and stay open to learning from others. 

A variety of awards were also presented to individuals and teams across the Military Health System for their work and research in IT.

Presentations also covered topics relating to IT in the MHS, ranging from operational medicine modernization, the future of joint medical readiness, MHS GENESIS, to the use of artificial intelligence, and women in technology.

“The three main pillars of focus for military health are force readiness, medical force readiness, and care of beneficiaries,” said Martinez-Lopez. “The importance of health information technology to each of these priorities is clear. Health is a foundational aspect of maintaining a high level of readiness in our armed forces.”

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