MHS Genesis EHR is now a reality. After four years of planning, months of tests and delays, and a $4.3-billion contract, Department of Defense’s first electronic health records implementation is live at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington.

Military Healthcare System (MHS) Genesis is based on commercial Cerner EHR and is a part of the DoD’s plan to update its legacy HIT infrastructure. Originally slated for roll-out in December 2016, it was delayed for a revision to ensure the system testing is complete before its prime time.

The challenge that prompted the delay was the sheer complexity of the project. Data exchange, interoperability, and integration of the new system with legacy systems across the military healthcare providers caused some doubts whether Cerner had the capacity required for the project of such magnitude. The Office of Inspector General even audited the DoD EHR update project and stated the federal organization was trying to undertake a project too big for the set timeline.

Genesis EHR

Nonetheless, the first week of the implementation is rated as a success, according to the DoD press release. Fairchild’s 92 Medical Group is the first military clinic to use MHS Genesis. It is the first single, integrated inpatient and outpatient EHR in the U.S. enabling a team approach in providing healthcare services. The Genesis EHR is collaborative and gathers all health information of a patient into a single e-PHI record. The system will have the bandwidth for 9.4 million e-PHI records for DoD beneficiaries & 205,000 MHS personnel globally. MHS Genesis will cater to:

  • 55 military medical centers and inpatient hospitals
  • 300 US Navy ships
  • 2 hospital ships
  • 373 clinics
  • 5 theater hospitals
  • 251 dental clinics
  • 3 services

According to DHA’s brochure, MHS Genesis is a game changer because:

  • all services will use a single system
  • it replaces an estimated 50 legacy systems
  • healthcare providers & patients will be able to access e-PHI anytime, from anywhere
  • it enables greater collaboration and improved healthcare delivery

To address the interoperability requirements, Cerner’s MHS Genesis allows Department of Veterans Affairs and commercial healthcare providers to access its data through Joint Legacy Viewer.

During 2018, DoD plans to deploy it at Naval Hospitals in Bremerton & Oak Harbor, & Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma. Genesis EHR system is slated for a nationwide implementation & global deployment in the U.S. medical facilities and garrisons by 2022.

Earlier this year, during a House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs hearing, the Government Accountability Office Director of IT Management Issues David A. Power said the VA should take the same approach and adopt a commercial SaaS EHR solution instead of trying to upgrade a 30-year old VistA system.

A separate GAO report notes the abandoned VA and DoD interoperability project that sought to develop a joint EHR system for the healthcare providers for active military staff and veterans cost $564 million. Both agencies decided to drop the endeavor, but while DoD opted for Cerner’s EHR, VA decided to upgrade its legacy VistA. Power calls this last decision “unwise,” as running separate systems does not lend itself gracefully to interoperability. VA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for IT & CIO of the Office of IT Rob C. Thomas, II, noted VA intended to go commercial, indeed, in response to committee’s feedback.

Providers Might Not Have The Medical Computers & Tablets Apt for The Task

The Pentagon says training the end-users for the seamless transition to Genesis EHR is one of its highest priorities. However, some officials are not sure if their computers and tablets are powerful enough to run Cerner’s EHR, according to Politico. The computer hardware at many DoD installations might not be able to handle the upgrade.

The four initial deployment hospitals in the Pacific Northwest are funded to purchase new medical computers. However, the other facilities might need the Pentagon to adjust the budgets to accommodate the acquisition of new medical computers for Genesis EHR and medical tablets sophisticated and robust enough to support Cerner solution.

MHS officials have more concerns figuring out how to deal with certain healthcare programs that are outside of its EHR. Cerner built Genesis so that it could interface with existing programs, but some applications are left behind, such as the nuclear medicine info system.

Medical Computers for Military EHR

Medical tablets and medical computers for military EHR must meet multiple requirements.

  • Powerful Cerner compliant hardware

Medical computers for Genesis EHR must be Cerner compliant and have a powerful Intel last-gen CPU, video card, and ample connectivity options. EHR is a resource-hungry application. A single EHR update can clog a weaker PC and lead to costly downtime, which is debilitating for a healthcare setting.

  • Compatible operating system

Medical computers and medical tablets for Genesis EHR must be Windows-powered. No mobile operating system can afford your handhelds the compatibility, ease of use and integration advantages of Windows-based medical tablets.

  • Support for legacy hardware

Medical environments abound in legacy hardware and applications. Medical computers for military EHR must come with serial ports and interfacing capabilities to support legacy software.

  • Superior data protection mechanisms and support for advanced authentication

Integrated CAC, Smart Card reader, a biometric scanner and RFID Imprivata SSO are hardware-enabled advanced authentication mechanisms that help organizations bring their data protection strategies up-to-date. On the software level, Windows medical computers and medical tablets for military EHR must support full disk encryption and encryption of external drives through a standard USB wire.

  • Safety for near-patient use – electric and radiation safety certification

Radiation and electric safety certifications are paramount for medical computers & tablets. Particularly for the cart-mount computers with hot-swap batteries nurses and physicians use for patient checkups, EHR update and drug dispensing. FDA issued a warning the batteries in powered medical carts may cause fires and smoke, disrupting the workflow at U.S. hospitals. When you choose a medical cart computer for a military healthcare facility, account for more than battery uptime, but also for battery safety & reliability.

  • MIL-STD Components

MIL-STD components ensure the durability of your medical computers and tablets, as well as their long lifecycle and low overall failure rates that translate into low Total Cost of Ownership. Medical tablets used in military healthcare system must be rugged to withstand the pressures of the military environments. Further, antimicrobial* properties protect the computer casing from deterioration and degradation.

  • Upgradeable, customizable, easy to deploy, maintain and use

Medical computers for military EHR must feature ample customization options and ensure the computers are able to accommodate any future EHR upgrades. From this perspective, it is always better to deal with the vendor rather than a reseller and inquire into the availability of spare parts over the course of device’s entire lifecycle, extended warranties, and out-of-warranty services.

  • Ergonomics and Power Efficiency

Military healthcare facilities have to deal with space constraints more than any other healthcare organization. Submarines, ships, military bases in remote locations require medical computers that can be mounted on virtually any surface, bedside arm, medical cart or in a vehicle. Additionally, medical computers and tablets for military hospitals must come with an internal power supply or hot-swap batteries to ensure full-shift uptime, and modest power consumption.

Contact a Cybernet representative today to find out about our Cerner-compliant medical computers & tablets.