US military electronic healthcare record to be deployed by December 2006

21 February 2006

San Diego, USA. AHLTA, the US military's electronic health record (EHR) was unveiled at the 2006 Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference and Exhibition last week. AHLTA is the next generation EHR that has global reach and is unrivaled in its size, complexity and capabilities. When fully deployed by December 2006, it will allow beneficiary health records to be accessed worldwide at any military treatment facility.

As of January 2006, the AHLTA Clinical Data Repository already contained 7.4 million beneficiary records, pre-populated with 25 months of laboratory, anatomic pathology, pharmacy, and radiology data from MHS legacy systems for MHS beneficiaries. Most commercial EHR implementations are "day forward" systems, meaning that on patients' first encounters with providers, they have an empty record, and the only data in their EHR is what providers enter.

A principal reason for DoD's implementation of AHLTA is to improve care for its MHS beneficiaries. These EHRs are patient-centric as opposed to facility-based, gathering patient information from facilities around the world into a single, durable record readily available to authorized healthcare providers at the click of a mouse. Paper systems relied heavily on patients to gather records and transport them to their healthcare providers — a process that often led to lost, damaged, misplaced, and incomplete records. Using this electronic method, DoD has identified and resolved more than 165,500 potentially life-threatening drug interactions.

A key characteristic of AHLTA is its scalability. While it has the power to support the 9.2 million beneficiaries in the MHS, this EHR is also able to connect to a handheld electronic device operated by a medic who is recording information on an injured or sick Service member half way around the globe.

"Providing continuity of care is a challenge to our providers who serve our highly mobile beneficiaries," said Army Col. Vic Eilenfield, AHLTA's program manager. "AHLTA makes care continuity a reality by ensuring beneficiaries have a complete single record that can be accessible at any military treatment facility."

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