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New communications tool rolled out on MHS GENESIS

Three men, wearing masks, looking at a computer screen. Navy Capt. Bradford Smith (left), commanding officer of Naval Medical Center San Diego, enrolls in MHS GENESIS with the help of training coordinators Navy Lt. Donny Le (standing) and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Terrance Stevens. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jake Greenberg)

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MHS GENESIS e-Visits provide a quick, safe, and easy tool for Military Health System beneficiaries to communicate COVID-19 concerns to their primary care providers. The communication tool on the new electronic health record rolled out in April.

“The e-Visits allow patients to initiate secure communication with their primary care team through the use of a structured questionnaire focused on COVID-19 symptoms. It decreases the need for a phone call or in-person visit,” said Air Force Lt. Col. John DaLomba, the Defense Health Agency's solution owner for the MHS GENESIS patient portal.

DaLomba leads the team that investigates and resolves issues with patient portal functionality, and also directs long-term strategy and communications for using the platform. He said additional e-Visit tools are planned to address other health concerns such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma.

As DaLomba explained, beneficiaries access COVID-19 e-Visits by logging on to the MHS GENESIS patient portal. They click on the "Appointments and e-Visits" tab and then "View Available e-Visits."

The next page takes beneficiaries to a COVID-19 questionnaire. Beneficiaries then click the "take now" button to complete it.

"The questionnaire uses branching logic," DaLomba said. "The answer to one question will lead to another and so on, until the patient finishes the questionnaire." DaLomba said some questions are basic while others are more detailed, and the questionnaire takes about five minutes to complete.

After finishing the questionnaire, beneficiaries hit the "submit" button. This enables the secure transfer to the beneficiary's provider, who will review the responses. Either the provider or a member of the care team then will reach out to the beneficiary with instructions and additional information, usually within one business day.

"Possible additional information ranges from 'please continue living your life' to 'seek emergency care immediately,'" DaLomba said. "The e-Visits eliminate the need for beneficiaries to immediately ­if at all ­ see providers in person. And they've proven to be critical to ensuring continuity of care while keeping vulnerable patients as well as providers safe from possible COVID-19 exposure," DaLomba said.

Among the eight military medical treatment facilities with MHS GENESIS, the number of e-Visits has an increased from an average of 3.1 visits per day in April to 13.3 visits per day in September, DaLomba said.

As the MHS is in the midst of a historic transformation to build a more integrated and effective system of readiness and health, MHS GENESIS serves as a cornerstone of this effort. The new EHR provides enhanced, secure technology to manage beneficiaries' health information. It also integrates inpatient and outpatient solutions that will connect medical and dental information across the continuum of care, from point of injury to the military medical treatment facility. This includes garrison, operational, and en route care, increasing efficiencies for health care professionals and improving outcomes for beneficiaries.

When fully deployed, MHS GENESIS will provide a single health record for all service members, eligible veterans, retirees, and their families. Beyond the user experience, the system also helps the MHS to better tailor resources to meet operational requirements.

The DHA began deploying MHS GENESIS in early 2017 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor, Naval Hospital Bremerton, and Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington.

In September 2019, MHS GENESIS was fully deployed at MTFs in California, at Travis AFB as well as Naval Air Station Lemoore and the U.S. Army Health Clinic Presidio of Monterey; and in Idaho at Mountain Home AFB.

Following the successful deployment of MHS GENESIS across four Coast Guard pilot sites Aug. 29, the DHA in conjunction with the Program Executive Office, Defense Healthcare Management Systems will deploy MHS GENESIS to 10 bases in California and Nevada later this month.

"The e-Visits are about giving beneficiaries control of their care and keeping everybody – patients, staff and families – as safe as possible," DaLomba said.

Learn more about accessing the MHS GENESIS patient portal.

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