Joint Task Force integrates military medical data

Thursday - 8/18/2011, 9:19pm EDT

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical came to be because of the Base Realignment and Closure program, but it's having a broader impact.

When Congress passed the BRAC law in 2005, one of the provisions required the Defense Department to consolidate and integrate the military's health care system for the National Capital Region. A big chunk of that effort falls to the JTF-CapMed's senior technology managers.

"The main thing is to create the integrated healthcare delivery systems and to fulfill the BRAC realignment so they are kind of one in the same," said Chuck Chapdelaine, the deputy chief information officer for Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical. "To create the integrated delivery system, that is the way of getting the providers and clinicians and support staff to work together to provide world class healthcare to our wounded warriors and beneficiaries. But in order to do that, you need the information that is in our various computer systems to be able to flow seamlessly, quickly and efficiently as well and we did not have that capability because, quite frankly, everything rose up through the services and they were the ones tasked with the medical mission."

Chapdelaine said the Joint Task Force has been building the integrated delivery system over the last few years. But now with the closing of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the opening of the new medical center at Ft. Belvoir, doctors and nurses are using the network to share information.

"I would estimate that we are probably 70 percent done," he said. "The biggest work was implementing a brand new network at Ft. Belvoir community hospital's brand new facility. That was a huge effort."

He said JTF is focusing on over the next six months is to complete the integrated network by bringing the Navy network at Bethesda Naval Medical Center and reduce duplicative software such as scheduling applications.

"The first one at Ft. Belvoir was completely new," he said. "The one here at Bethesda we are going to do a transitioned process by which we stand up certain components of the joint medical network and migrate that into the Navy network and then over time, in order to avoid as much mission impact as possible, then we will slowly migrate the Navy network over to the Joint Medical Network. Since this facility is operational and seeing patients now, we want to have as minimal impact to patient care as possible so this slower transition will help us avoid that mission impact."

Then JTF will begin negotiating with the Army and Air Force to bring satellite clinics and hospitals that aren't under the JTF command structure, but would benefit from joining the network.

Chapdelaine works closely with the Military Health System and Tricare as it developed the integrated network.

Even though JTF-CapMed is part of the BRAC initiative, Chapdelaine said a side effect is its work on improving data sharing and integration.

"We really would like to disconnect the application that the user works with and the data source. I don't need a hundred data sources to support a hundred applications. I really only need one or two data sources to support all of those. Those applications will drill into those data sources and reuse the data. That way if one application is no longer meeting a user's requirement, we can switch out the application and never lose the data."

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