- 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
Caring For Troops And Families After A Decade Of War Cont.
Sustaining Research Investments
Over the last several years, we have provided more than $600 million annually in funding for independent medical research and development – work performed in academic medical and research centers around the country, as well as in our own military medical centers. We have much for which to be proud and upon which to build.
The results of investments from five, 10 and 20 years ago are being seen today. Our research on how to stop bleeding; how to safely transport and treat critically-injured patients; how to battle infectious disease and more have saved countless lives of our men and women in the deployed theaters.
Only recently, medical research funded first by DoD, then by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a major pharmaceutical firm, produced dramatic news – that a malaria vaccine in clinical trials was working. Here is an example of decades (or more) of military medical research, such as was begun Walter Reed himself, that will save the lives of millions around the world.
In March 2011, our years of research and knowledge about the effects of radiological exposure were brought to bear in helping the Japanese people respond to their nuclear crisis following the tsunami. Today, we also assist the Japanese, offering expertise in post-traumatic stress.
In 2012, we will continue with such research efforts as craniofacial reconstruction to improve and restore facial function and appearance after injury; burn-repair programs that aim to regenerate and restore burned skin; psychological health; traumatic brain injury and the plethora of combat and noncombat medical research that made us a national and global leader in medical research.
Savings Driven By Strategy
The economic conditions facing our country require that every government agency re-evaluate how it performs its mission. The MHS is no exception.
In October, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued his guidance and priorities for the coming year, acknowledging that we in DoD also have “obligations to help get our nation’s economic house in order.” We are not going to do this through simple or simplistic cost-cutting. The secretary asserted that savings will be driven by strategy rather than expediency.
This sentence – savings driven by strategy rather than expediency – perfectly describes how we will go about our work to further identify efficiencies in military medicine.
For the past year, we have introduced initiatives in which all stakeholders –government, provider community and beneficiaries – have shared in our efficiency initiatives. We’ve reduced the DoD medical headquarters support staff by more than 700 contractors, reduced payments to TRICARE providers in select areas and introduced very modest changes in beneficiary copayments. As in 2011, we will continue to look for efficiencies from all sectors of our operations.
I will be directing more aggressive efforts for the sharing of critical-support services through a common framework – health information technology, medical logistics, financial management and medical education and training are a few of the areas in which we can both improve operational support to the medical personnel in the field and reduce the overall size of our headquarters.
We also will continue to deepen our relationship with the VA. From construction of joint medical facilities to the development of the next generation Electronic Health Record, we are committed to sharing with the VA at unprecedented levels and assessing success from the perspective of the people we serve.
Additionally, long-term savings in healthcare will come from our population health strategy – the “healthcare to health” initiative we are implementing. We need to improve the health of all we serve; reduce hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the Emergency Room; ensure preventive services are delivered in a timely and customer-focused manner; and provide our beneficiaries with more information to manage their health without requiring a visit to the doctor.
Despite these resource-limited times, it is possible to strengthen the institutions we serve. New approaches and greater connectivity can produce benefits we might not have considered in previous years. The MHS remains one of the great learning organizations in American society. We continue to take a high-performing system and make it better.
I look to 2012 with great optimism regarding our ability to sustain the readiness of our military forces and of our health system. We have exceptional leaders at every level of our organization; we have the knowledge to understand what is not working and make it better; and we have the skills to execute on our strategic plans.