- Introduction: A Top-Level Look at the Future of Federal Medicine
- Military Health System in Time of Transition as Conflicts End
- Army Medicine: Redefining Its Role in the Generation of a Ready and Resilient Force
- Air Force Medicine: Averting an Identity Crisis
- Moving Forward with Reforming the Indian Health Service
- The Clinical Pharmacy Specialist's Growing Provider Role in VA
- Public Health Service Pharmacy: Accelerating Transformation
- Military Pain Management’s Future: Less Invasive, More Data-Driven Techniques
- Navy Medicine: Strong, Agile and Ready
- Telemental Health in VA: A New Source of Support for Veterans
- Categorized in: Air Force, Department of Defense (DoD), This Year in Federal Medicine - Outlook 2013
Achieving “Better Care” mandates that we provide reliable access to safe, quality care for everyone we serve, promoting positive patient experiences and outcomes. To do this, we must be consistent and reliable in ensuring our staff focuses on patient safety first and use evidence-based practices in the provision of quality care.
With more than 1 million patients enrolled, Air Force Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) has made significant inroads into greater continuity of care and improved patient and provider satisfaction. To support PCMH, we implemented secure messaging, now deployed to one-third of our medical treatment facilities (MTFs), with the remainder coming on board this year. This technology gives us a secure online communication system that allows patients to contact their primary-care clinics for medical advice, appointments, prescription renewal and laboratory results. In 2013, we will give our patients access to personal health records via secure messaging, making our patients full partners in their health care.
“Better Health” requires us to encourage healthy behaviors through a culture of enhancing resilience and human performance, while reducing illness and injury. We are working hard with Air Force leadership to inculcate healthy behaviors in our airmen and help them to cope with the mental-health stressors they experience. Comprehensive Airman Fitness focuses on building strength across physical, mental, spiritual and social domains. Airman Resilience Training, for example, provides a standardized but flexible approach to pre- and post-exposure training for deploying airmen and reintegration education for redeploying airmen. The Deployment Transition Center (DTC) at Ramstein AB, Germany, has assisted almost 5,000 high exposure airmen (along with some Marines and coalition partners) since its doors opened more than two years ago. Research from DTC surveys have shown lower rates of post-traumatic stress, interpersonal conflict and alcohol use in attendees after returning home.
In conjunction with these resiliency efforts, we are implementing multiple initiatives to improve access to mental healthcare, including the Behavioral Health Optimization Program (BHOP), which embeds mental-health providers within the primary-care clinics of each MTF, and the Mental Health Integration Program, a demonstration project to evaluate placing full-service mental-health capability in PCMH at two of our MTFs. To support the unique “telewarrior” mission, we also are placing mental-health resources at our largest RPA/intel bases, attached to flight medicine.
Better Health also requires the AFMS to meet the health challenges of our returning wounded, ill and injured suffering from the apparent physical injuries to the invisible wounds such as traumatic brain injury and hearing loss. At the same time, we must be concerned with nationwide health issues that affect our airmen and their families just as in the civilian sector, such as the increasing rates of obesity and chronic illnesses. We continue to work with our service counterparts and civilian partners to address these issues, through research, education and best practices.
The Air Force is united with our Army, Navy and Defense Department colleagues in streamlining the Military Health System governance system. Implementation planning is under way to affect change beginning in 2013, to include consolidating and standardizing redundant processes and services. We are all committed to collaborating on shared services where it makes sense to lower healthcare costs and improve joint interoperability without abandoning our important service command structures and doctrinal role differences.
Even in austere fiscal times, readiness, better care and better health cannot be scoped solely on funding if we are to achieve and maintain a healthy, ready, fighting force. Best value means seeing a clear return on investments, which must be constantly measured, reported and adjusted. We are heavily engaged in identifying the best processes, optimizing existing services and pursuing continuous improvement to deliver the healthcare mission efficiently, effectively and safely, while maintaining the readiness edge. Building a solid, sustainable foundation for the way ahead, while recognizing there is a cost to maintain readiness, is a crucial next step as we prepare for an uncertain future while establishing ourselves as an agile, versatile and innovative medical force.