e-Health wins Army's highest civilian honor

Friday - 5/7/2010, 10:40am EDT

William Weed, Director, MC4 Program Management and Business Transformation, Army

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Receiving an award for Exceptional Civilian Service is quite an honor, especially when it comes from the Army Secretary, John McHugh himself. The Secretary gave the award to William Weed, Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) Program Management and Business Transformation director.

Federal News Radio asked Weed to explain what all that means.

"MC4 is an Army acquisition program," said Weed, "so our job is to field the system called MC4. It's an electronic medical recording system, much like we have in our hospitals here in the States."

With one big exception: MC4 is in the war zone in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Kuwait. The idea, said Weed, is "to enable the doctors and nurses and other providers in theater to document health care electronically for our soldiers."

So the military has the kind of e-health record system the rest of us are just learning about. "It's been a pretty busy 6 or 7 years here at MC4," Weed deadpanned.

The key to getting it done was not waiting until it was done. Weed said they decided to provide an initial capability, a 95% technical solution, and push it out the door. "Got it out there early. Got the doctors trained on how to use it. And we've been pretty successful since that time in improving it over time."

The EMR (Electronic Medical Record) System is basically commercial off-the-shelf laptops "with government specific software that complies with all the personal security requirements for heath information," Weed told Federal News Radio. "It also needs to be deployable because some of our wounded warriors of course go to a relatively fixed facility like a hospital, but others (like) the combat medic themselves are out providing care on the battlefield so it needs to be a portable system as well."

MC4 is part of the Army, which is part DoD's Military Health System, which is part of a national system. As such, it has a 5-year plan built in, said Weed.

"The administration's put out some pretty aggressive goals for having every citizen in the United States having an electronic medical within five years actually. So our system actually is interoperable with the evolving National Health Information Network."

For his work, Weed was presented with the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service (DECS) Award during a ceremony at the Pentagon. The DECS, comparable to the military's Distinguished Service Medal, is the highest award granted by the Secretary of the Army to Army civilian personnel.

Hooah, Director Weed!