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Medical group poised for major transition in operations

A photo of the Ehrling Bergquist Clinic to go with a story on a new records system.

A photo of the Ehrling Bergquist Clinic from 2019. The 55th Medical Group will implement a new electronic health record system known as MHS GENESIS April 24, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kendra Williams)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The 55th Medical Group is poised to undergo one of its largest operational changes in recent memory as it transitions to the new electronic health record system, known as MHS GENESIS, April 24, 2021.

Implemented at Department of Defense hospitals and clinics in a phased approach over the next several years, MHS GENESIS’ goal is to provide enhanced, secure technology to help manage health information for the more than 9.5 million service members, veterans and their families around the globe.

“When fully implemented, MHS GENESIS will provide a single electronic health record for all of our beneficiaries,” said Col. Julie Ostrand, 55th MDG commander. “We believe it will greatly increase efficiencies for not only medical professionals throughout the DoD, but also for those in the Veterans Affairs medical care system.”

MHS GENESIS integrates inpatient and outpatient solutions that will connect medical and dental information across the continuum of care, from point of injury to the military treatment facility. This includes on-base, operational and en route care, increasing efficiencies for beneficiaries and healthcare professionals.

“When complete, we’ll be able to see all of a patient’s medical records from any military or VA medical facility,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Dillon Savard, 55th Medical Group chief medical informatics officer. “MHS GENESIS also saves information in a way that is more reliable and rapidly viewable.”

Through MHS GENESIS, beneficiaries can view their health information, exchange secure messages with their care team, request prescription renewals, view notes from clinical visits, request medical and active duty dental appointments and more.

“The process will largely be the same as the current options in the TRICARE Online Patient Portal and Secure Messaging systems, but patients will benefit from accessing all of those features through one site, the MHS GENESIS Patient Portal,” Savard said. “Patients who already have a DS Logon will automatically have access to the new Portal once we go live.”

Savard added that anyone who is not sure if they have an active DS Logon can visit https://myaccess.dmdc.osd.mil/ to update or activate their DS Logon so they are prepared for the change.

As with any change of this magnitude, it will take time for all Ehrling Bergquist Clinic staff to learn the ins and outs of MHS GENESIS. However, the staff is taking feedback from other clinics that have already made the transition to hopefully make their process as smooth as possible.

“Other facilities already created templates for documentation and for ordering tests and medications, so we can use those so that we aren’t starting from scratch,” Savard said. “We’ve also learned the value of letting each member do their part of the job, rather than trying to cross over into each other’s lane.

“There are also some aspects of the system that we already have access to, and they recommended we go ahead and start using those features now, to ease the transition,” he added.

In order to help the transition even further, the EBC staff is encouraging all beneficiaries to schedule their routine care and wellness visits prior to their transition to MHS GENESIS in late April to avoid longer than normal wait times.

Savard said appointments may take a little longer after the transition as staff will need to enter all of the patient’s information. However, patient information will only need to be entered one time, unlike the old system.

“Get your routine needs taken care of now, even if it is a little earlier than usual, so that you can minimize your need for appointments for a month or so starting April 24,” Savard said. “We will still be seeing patients, but will have reduced numbers of appointments available during that timeframe.”

Beneficiaries are also encouraged to time medication refills to be picked up before April 24 as there may be delays in prescription processing during the transition. In addition, everyone is encouraged to verify their contact information is correct in DEERS prior to the transition. Beneficiaries should continue to message their care team with any concerns.

“We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we work our through this transition,” Ostrand said. “Nothing is more important to us than providing quality care and support to our beneficiaries and we welcome their feedback to ensure we meet their needs through MHS GENESIS.”