The Military Health System's transformation is quickly accelerating as the Defense Health Agency launched 10 new markets in locations across the country on July 26.
Eight large single-service markets and two large multi-service markets were added to the ever-growing number of geographically-determined markets under the management of the DHA, bringing the total number of markets to 17.
The 10 newly established markets are:
- Puget Sound (multi-service)
- Hawaii (multi-service)
- Southwest Kentucky
- Southwest Georgia
- Central Texas
- Coastal North Carolina
- Low Country (Georgia)
- San Diego
- Augusta (Georgia)
They follow other markets that were recently launched, including: San Antonio, Colorado, Tidewater (Virginia), National Capitol Region, Jacksonville (Florida), Central North Carolina and Coastal Mississippi.
Markets are groups of military treatment facilities working together with their TRICARE partners, Veterans Affairs hospitals, other federal health care organizations, private sector teaching hospitals and medical universities, as well as other civilian health care partners in their area.
These markets operate as a single system to support the sharing of patients, staff, budgets, and other functions across facilities to improve readiness, and the delivery and coordination of health services.
But what does this all mean for you and your family, as beneficiaries?
Here's what U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Tracy Farrill, the transition director for the DHA Assistant Director for Health Care Administration, said beneficiaries should know about a new MHS market standing up in their area:
Better Access to Care
"You're pooling all your resources from that market to make them available to all the beneficiaries, so access will definitely improve" said Farrill. "One of the biggest goals of the market construct and the transition is to standardize things from location to location so, no matter where you go, you know what to expect when you walk in the door."
Farrill said this standardization will make it easier for both the patients and providers to navigate an array of services including medical records, prescriptions, and lab work.
Standardization and easier access will inevitably lead to improved outcomes, Farrill said.
"If we standardize and create better access points and use all of the talent throughout the market, then that's going to create the best care because they're optimizing that within the market," she said. "The beneficiaries should not only get quick access, but also the best providers and the best timing, where providers aren't having to learn a new system every time they go to a different facility."
Improved Access to Local MTFs and Specialized Care
Patients will be able to continue to go to their local MTF. The advantage comes in the way of specialized care. If, for instance, a patient requires a treatment option that an Army hospital doesn't have, but a Navy or civilian hospital does have, that care will be available to them, quickly and easily.
No Impact on Your Primary Care Provider
"You should be able to keep your provider if you want to keep your provider, but it will open up a whole other group of providers for specialized care," said Farrill.
The goal, Farrill said, is for the transition from the services to the DHA to be seamless.
Improved Customer Service
"Our goal is for beneficiaries to be able to get care quickly, without having to figure out how to get it," Farrill said. "For centralized appointing, for instance, they shouldn't have to figure that out. It will all be in one place where they can access it."
Improvements on the information technology side of the transformation include MHS GENESIS, the new electronic health record, which will eliminate the need to take medical records from one duty station to another duty station, and will also give providers instant access patients' records.
"Your doctor today can see what your doctor put in when you were stationed elsewhere. It's all in the same system," said Farrill. This includes access by civilian providers.
Optimized Care for the Warfighter
"In a market, you're bringing all the right people and skillsets together," said Farrill. "The warfighter should have the best outcome and you should have the best of all services, no matter where you go - whether you see a doctor from the Navy, Army, Air Force or the Public Health Service."
The warfighter, she said, shouldn't be able to tell the difference. Only that they are being seen by the highest quality of provider.