Who Needs An EHR? Some Defense Hospital Emergency Rooms Still Use Paper

Bob Brewin | Nextgov.com | October 2, 2014

Despite investing billions of dollars in information technology over the past decade, three out of seven military hospitals surveyed in a review of the Military Health System reported their emergency rooms still use paper records.  Released yesterday, the report said the current MHS IT infrastructure “and rigid network requirements resonate across all MTFs [military treatment facilities] as problematic” -- including issues with electronic health records.  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the review May 28.  MHS operates 56 hospitals and 361 clinics worldwide.

Two of the hospitals visited by the review team said technical challenges with the outpatient Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, the underlying Composite Health Care System, which has laboratory, pharmacy and scheduling modules, and the Essentris inpatient EHR, “expressed concerns that this could affect patient care and safety (e.g., access to medical record).”  On Sept. 30, the Defense Health Agency awarded CliniComp International a sole-source, one-year $30 million contract to maintain and continue to support Essentris.

One military hospital experienced interface connectivity issues between laboratory analyzers and CHCS, lasting seven months, resulting in manual data entry, increasing risk for error, the report said. It added,“there are delays for new staff members to gain access to the network and IT applications.”  Overall, the review concluded MHS has created a culture of safety with effective processes for ensuring safe and reliable care of beneficiaries and that quality of care meets or exceeds defined benchmarks...