February Message from the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs

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(PDF version of what is below)

MHS Team:

Earlier this month, in a memo to all DoD employees, Acting SECDEF Shanahan
emphasized his direction to hold the line, strive for excellence in daily
tasks, build efficiencies across our teams, and keep us lethal and ready. He
reaffirmed the Department’s focus on the National Defense Strategy’s three
lines of effort to restore readiness, strengthen alliances and partnerships,
and drive business reforms. These priorities remain at the forefront of the
Military Health System’s efforts for 2019.

Your work continues to yield dividends on the quality of care our 9.5
million beneficiaries receive. Last month, the American College of Surgeons
(ACS) presented Meritorious Awards to four military treatment facilities
representing the top 10 percent of ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement
Program (NSQIP) hospitals worldwide providing exceptional surgical care
quality. The David Grant Medical Center (for the third year in a row),
Darnall Army Medical Center, Naval Hospital Jacksonville, and Naval Medical
Center Portsmouth earned this impressive distinction-a testament to MHS
staff committed to meet the gold standard for quality and foster a culture
of improvement. Our individual staff recognitions are also making news. Just
a few weeks ago, Navy Medicine West named HM1 Beatrix Solorio from Naval
Health Clinic Hawaii and HM1 Amy Bohrer from OHSU Bremerton as the regional
2018 Senior Sailor and Reserve Senior Sailor of the Year, respectively-an
extraordinary achievement reflecting both their individual outstanding
performance and the ambitious culture driven by their immediate leadership.

I’m always proud-but not surprised-to see the MHS’s accomplishments and your
dedicated work to build on our culture of excellence as we roll out the MHS
priority areas to enhance readiness, continue implementation of the
transition of MTFs to the DHA, advance Global Health Engagement goals, and
deploy the MHS GENESIS electronic health record.

On the readiness front, USUHS received a $15 million grant from the DHA to
fund a new, four-year program to provide rehabilitative care for Service
members with musculoskeletal injuries. This Collaboratory for
Musculoskeletal Injury Rehabilitation Research (CMIRR) program will enhance
overall military readiness by supporting the estimated 800,000 Service
members affected by musculoskeletal injury each year-injuries resulting in
25 million days of limited duty and 34 percent of medical evacuations from
the battlefield.

At last week’s Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS)
Annual Conference, MHS leaders joined the 40,000 health IT professionals,
clinicians, executives, and vendors from around the world to share
information on the current status of the deployment of MHS GENESIS as part
of a concerted push towards standardization, integration, and readiness. As
we gear up to deploy the new EHR at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Travis Air
Force Base, Army Medical Health Clinic Presidio, and Mountain Home Air Force
Base, the lessons learned from medical providers and test and evaluation
feedback in the earlier IOC sites will make this next round of
implementation even stronger. And with significant efficiencies to be gained
from MHS GENESIS in areas like referrals, wait times, patient access, and
prescription filling processes, applying IOC best practices will be
critical, translating to better training for new users, more subject matter
experts to assist workforce transition, and a more strategic change
management process.

We face a complex set of organizational changes this year to deliver on our
readiness, healthcare delivery, and reform priorities. I look forward to
hearing more updates on MHS progress towards our priority areas and to
supporting your work to take our organization to the next level.

Command Surgeon at National Defense University – O5/O6

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BLUF: Command Surgeon wanted for National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, DC. During the 2nd year you attend the senior service school.

Qualifications requested include:

  • O5/O6
  • Have confirmation from the Detailer that they could PCS and start in June 2019.
  • Interested docs should be candidates for executive medicine in the future.
  • They also should expect to do a utilization tour after attending NDU.

Here is the Memorandum of Agreement that provides some details.

All applications need to be submitted to CDR Melissa Austin at BUMED NLT than 22 FEB. Her e-mail is in the global.

Virtual Promotion Board Pilot Conducted, Results Encouraging

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From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) —  As part of Sailor 2025 personnel modernization and transformation efforts, a recent nuclear limited duty officer (LDO) board was conducted virtually, Navy leaders said Jan 31.

“The virtual board is an important improvement in the delivery of a modern, streamlined selection process for current and future naval leaders,” said Rear Adm. Rick Cheeseman, assistant commander, Navy Personnel Command for Career Management.

Charged by the chief of naval personnel to test the feasibility of conducting a virtual board, the NPC Submarine/Nuclear Officer Career Management Division (PERS-42) decided in July that the Fiscal Year 2020 Nuclear LDO In-Service Procurement Board conducted in November would be its target board for their test. The team spent that time developing solutions and creating procedures for the virtual board. This consisted of creating methods for existing software systems to work together, and creating redundancies and fail safes for each step of the process. Prior to the LDO board, five mock boards were conducted to assess their system.

“We wanted to get our virtual board as close as possible to the real thing,” said Cmdr. Carlos Martinez, head nuclear submarine executive officer detailer. “We provided each board member a redacted copy of the Sailors’ records they would be reviewing as well as a mark-up tool we developed based on (slide presentation) software.”

The team effort required the use of a variety of tools including the Defense Collaborative Services (DCS), secure file sharing services, encrypted email, as well as the software solutions created in-house by the PERS-42 staff.

“Protecting (Personally Identifiable Information) was a major concern in this process,” said Capt. Andrew Miller, deputy director, PERS-42. “In addition to the secure file sharing, we redacted names and other PII from the records and password protected each file. After the board members received their files, they were provided the passwords only for those records they would be reviewing.”

“The process was a little slower,” Miller said. “It was slower than our mock boards – one member had technical issues that slowed things down considerably; however, in the end we proved that the process is achievable.”

Although the PERS-42 team encountered some technical issues – for which they had backup processes in place – the entire board was conducted in a combined time of about 18 hours. In comparison, a conventional board entails a day of travel on the front and back end as well as the time it takes for the board itself.  By conducting the board virtually, they also saved travel expenses for the nine board members.

“The financial savings is a good selling point,” Miller said, “but by conducting a board virtually, that’s one less board competing for physical space in the board spaces.”

Lessons learned from the pilot board reinforced many of the notions the team had going into the planning process. Currently, there are many challenges with using disparate systems, Miller said.

“We have a civilian information technology professional in our office – Walter Mathis – without whom none of this would have been possible,” Martinez said. “He’s the one who developed the software solutions, he wrote the code, created the markup tool, integrated the voting tool within DCS with other software systems, and more.”

A major takeaway, Miller said, is that to make virtual boards a permanent reality, a dedicated software suite would need to be created and operators trained.

“If we’re going to be serious about making this process a reality, we’re going to have to provide some resources to do it right,” Miller said. “We had full autonomy to make this happen. We would not have been able to get this done without it. Especially not in the timeframe within which we had to work.”

The PERS-42 team has debriefed the pilot board results and recommendations and has begun preparing for their next board.

“Every time you do this you learn something new,” Miller said. “We are looking at what can be done better. This time we tried to make the board as close to as possible to the ones conducted here physically, but with the virtual boards there may be better ways to conduct it. We’re looking for opportunities in the processes.”

Another virtual board is planned in the spring by PERS-42.

“Conducting boards virtually is just one of the many things we’re working on in this transformation effort, but it’s something that makes a lot of sense and will, in the long term, save everyone time and money. Our PERS-42 team has made great strides in making this a reality, and we’re looking forward to future virtual board pilots,” Cheeseman added.

And We’re Back! DoD Announces Post-9/11 GI Bill Education Benefits Transfer Exception

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From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Department of Defense (DoD) has granted a temporary exception to policy to allow select service members to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to dependents until July 12, 2019.

NAVADMIN 020/19, released Jan. 24, announces that for a limited time, Sailors with at least 10 years of service who are unable to serve four additional years, due to statute or standard policy, may transfer their education benefits to dependents if they agree to serve the maximum time authorized.  For example, enlisted Sailors within four years of high year tenure or officers within four years of their statutory limit of service are eligible.

The policy exception is retroactive to July 12, 2018 and ends July 11, 2019, after which Sailors will need to commit to the full four years of service to transfer their benefits.

Sailors with at least 10 years of service whose transfer of education benefits applications were rejected due to the policy changes announced in NAVADMIN 170/18, and who are still serving on active duty or in the selected reserve (SELRES), must reapply for transfer of education benefits by following guidance in NAVADMIN 236/18, including completion of the new statement of understanding at https://myeducation.netc.navy.mil/webta/home.html#nbb.

For complete information on this temporary exception to policy, read NAVADMIN 020/19 at www.npc.navy.mil.

Get more information about the Navy from US Navy facebook or twitter.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.

Initial Blog Changes Meet Approval!

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I made the following changes to the blog, and its review by PAO gave it the thumbs up:

  • I changed the title to remove references to the Navy and the Medical Corps.
  • I removed the Medical Corps logo.
  • I removed the pictures of Naval vessels.
  • I added the military disclaimer to the top and bottom (along the right hand side) of every page.

I should hopefully start posting content again soon. I just have to work through the details on what I can post and what needs to be reviewed before I post it.

Thanks for all the support expressed while I work through this!