355th MDG implements new military health system

  • Published
  • By Senor Airman Blake Gonzales
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

In order for the 355th Medical Group to accomplish its mission, it needs the best tools and systems available to ensure patients get the care and services they need. The 355th MDG is implementing a larger system that will greatly enhance its ability to provide healthy combat forces and trusted healthcare to the Desert Lightning Team.

That change is the Military Health System GENESIS, a new electronic health record system, going live on April 24, 2021. MHS GENESIS combines two legacy systems currently used by the U. S. Air Force. This modernized system is being implemented across the Department of Defense and enables a more streamlined care experience for patients. It also provides the 355th MDG’s Desert Medics with a reliable database to access patient information whenever and wherever care is provided.

“The process to implement MHS GENESIS has been on-going since 2019,” said U. S. Air Force Capt. Michael Howard, 355th MDG executive officer. “The process of switching to a new electronic health record system across the DoD has required a lot of manpower, time, training and resources that will culminate in a much better patient experience.”

MHS GENESIS is replacing two legacy systems, Composite Health Care System and the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, which have been around since the 1980s. MHS Genesis will provide a single record of care throughout a military member’s service, as well as establish an adaptable system that can evolve as the healthcare industry changes.

“Medical staff will benefit from MHS GENESIS by utilizing one system as opposed to two,” Howard said. “It also allows for the connection of medical and dental information across all areas of responsibility.  This includes garrison, operational and en route care.”

MHS GENESIS is a historic transformation that allows Airmen to access their current medical and dental health records 24/7. Patients will also be able to schedule and cancel appointments, request prescription refills, view clinic and certain laboratory/test results, and have access to a health library. The new patient portal provides all these new capabilities, plus allowing Airmen to access their records from anywhere in the world, eliminating the need to hand-carry paper records from base-to-base.

“It’s going to follow them anywhere they go, including deployments,” said Todd Sauls, Defense Health Administration MHS GENESIS project integration analyst. “When you look at our system we use now called AFHLTA, it’s kind of limited. The new system will be viewable in theater and available from the beginning of their career all the way to retirement.”  

While being readily accessible, these new MHS GENESIS features will also have the highest levels of cyber security, providing enhanced and secure technology to manage and safeguard protected health information.

“The system is built to serve patients with increased security and functionality,” Sauls said.

Although it is a new system and new technology, the 355th MDG is preparing for the transition well in advance.

“The Desert Medics have been through multiple training sessions, practice events and weekly meetings in the effort to phase out the old systems and implement MHS GENESIS,” Sauls said. “We have also installed new equipment to support MHS GENESIS including bar code scanners, work-stations and e-signature pads.”

As the new system is implemented, limited appointment availability, longer prescription fill times and longer wait times are expected.

“We do not anticipate these delays to last long,” Howard said. “While this is unfortunate, it is necessary to ensure our staff has the time to learn this new system so we can continue providing the safe, reliable care you’ve come to expect from us.”

Innovative systems like MHS GENESIS are just one of the ways the 355th MDG, the U. S. Air Force and the DoD are keeping our airmen fit-to-fight and ready to execute the diverse missions of the 355th Wing.