The early stages of the Department of Defense’s new electronic health record system, MHS GENESIS, were plagued with reports of poor operability and a lack of onsite efficiency.

But according to early results from the first four initial operational capability sites, released Oct. 30 by GENESIS partner Cener, the system has now made a turnaround and is producing positive changes for DoD medical facilities.

“I recently had the opportunity to visit these sites and meet with their leadership teams. I am encouraged by the progress being made and the direction we are now headed. Even in this early stage, thanks to the leadership at each site, we’re seeing improvements in patient safety, patient care and efficiency,” wrote Travis Dalton, president of Cerner Government Services, in a news release on the system.

MHS GENESIS was first deployed at Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, Naval Hospital Bremerton and Madigan Army Medical Center between February and October 2017.

According to the release, between the first 60 days after deployment and May 2018, the four IOC sites saw a nine-minute improvement in the time it takes to see a provider after arriving at the emergency department.

Between January and June 2018, the sites avoided approximately 2,300 duplicate lab orders and nearly 400 duplicate chest X-rays between January and August.

Since the first 60 days of the system going live, the sites saw a 40 percent increase in online messaging between patients and providers, a 33 percent increase in patients seen in ambulatory locations and a 65 percent increase in the volume of prescriptions and refills, according to the release.

The Cerner release also reiterated that initial reports of the system’s problems were part of the learning and improvement process of MHS GENESIS.

“Though some have portrayed the report’s findings as a setback for the program, these reports accomplished exactly what we intended. We welcome the feedback from the [initial operational test and evaluation] reports, as well as direct feedback from end-users and leadership at the IOC sites. We will continue to work with them to optimize and improve the system throughout the lifespan of the program,” Dalton wrote.

Moving forward, Cerner is positioned to soon kick off deployments at facilities in California and Idaho, and will be using the lessons learned from a recent event with DoD, Veterans Affairs and the Office of Management and Budget to make sure that upcoming work on the VA’s electronic health records system will move forward smoothly.

“Though our work is only beginning with the VA’s EHRM program, we’re continually engaging their leaders and end-users through local workshops and site reviews that are critical to implementation at their IOC sites. EHRM will have ongoing innovation and health information exchanges among military and veteran care facilities and thousands of civilian health care providers throughout the program,” wrote Dalton.

According to Dalton, though the VA EHRM rollout will rely on lessons learned from MHS GENESIS, the agency also has unique challenges that will need to be addressed.