Why this family medicine physician prefers the DOD's new MHS Genesis EHR

Navy Lt. Lauren Alderson, MD, a family medicine physician at Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor (Wash.), spoke with The News Tribune about why she prefers the U.S. Department of Defense's new EHR more than its legacy system.

The DOD's Cerner EHR rollout follows a "wave model," in which the new EHR system — called MHS Genesis — will replace the agency's legacy EHR systems across three continental U.S. regions and two regions overseas through 2022. The first wave of facilities to integrate MHS Genesis began in February 2017, when the DOD implemented the EHR at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane, Wash.

Here are four things to know about Dr. Alderson's experience with MHS Genesis.

1. Dr. Alderson has used MHS Genesis since Naval Hospital Oak Harbor went live on the EHR in July 2017. MHS Genesis, which is still in its testing stage, has faced criticism from government officials and providers, who claim the EHR has experienced software kinks and has had trouble transferring data from the facility's legacy EHR, called AHLTA, The News Tribune reports.

2. Dr. Alderson acknowledged MHS Genesis has flaws to address, noting it is "still in its infancy." However, she said she has attended two conferences where officials discussed the EHR's potential to incorporate wearables, telehealth and clinical decision support, which she believes will improve staff efficiency and patient safety.

"There is still stuff to work out, to modify, and they're focusing on that," she told the publication. "It's not perfect and we knew it wouldn't be. But for patient safety, this is the way to go."

3. A key benefit Dr. Alderson has already experienced is a more streamlined charting experience. Her goal is to do more charting in the exam room with the patient rather than reviewing responses patients submit prior to their appointment.

"For me, charting is much quicker," Dr. Alderson said regarding MHS Genesis. "The open documentation in the patient portal is a huge benefit for patients to see, as part of their healthcare record and their healthcare in general. We can see lab [results] easier. We can communicate with each other and our nurses a lot easier. I can leave at the end of the day with no records or charts open because I've closed them all during encounters with patients. And that was huge for me."

4. Dr. Alderson told The News Tribune she thinks MHS Genesis will provide the DOD with a "very beautiful electronic health record. We just need to get it stabilized and working for us at the basic level, and then those other steps will come along."

"All this makes AHLTA look so antiquated, with how slow it is and how little you can do with it," she said. She added that if she's later assigned to a hospital still using AHLTA, "I'll be pulling out my hair. It will be slow and cumbersome. Oh, it will be awful."

More articles on EHRs & interoperability:
ONC releases guide on patient access to EHRs
Baystate Health adds diagnostic images to patient portal
English hospital deploys Epic EHR alert to identify sepsis: 3 things to know

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