Health IT

Military aims to revamp health data collection

The Military Health System is revamping its process for collecting and analyzing information, according to the agency.

The agency plans to consolidate the different data systems among its many hospitals and modernize its data analytics systems, which all too often require researchers to enter information manually.

"Everyone wants data," said Air Force Col. Albert Bonnema, chief of Information Delivery for the Defense Health Agency (DHA). "The MHS is more than a hospital system – it is also a health benefit encompassing health promotion, research, military mission support, occupational health, public health and more. MHS leaders and managers want a single, comprehensive, strategic view of all the data."

The agency also wants to avoid duplicating data collection efforts. MHS estimates that there can be up to 70 percent data duplication across its 10 largest sources of data, which reduces available storage space.

The plan is to extract all the information MHS requires, translate it into a common language and load it into one large system. The entire process will be automated and improved analytics systems will connect far more complex data points to help enhance care and address issues.

Bonnema highlighted the work done at the National intrepid Center of Excellence, which released a cutting-edge database that helps collect, standardize and analyze clinical data related to traumatic brain injuries. The system leverages existing Defense Health Agency health IT systems to produce a cost-effective way to collect and analyze millions of data points.

"What they're getting is better decision making," he said. "Better decisions on the quality of their care, availability of appointments and better safety."

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