MHS Changes Care Model To Avoid Systemic Issues Similar To the VA
The New York Times has reported months’ worth of investigation showing “a pattern of avoidable errors that has led to injuries and contributed to some deaths” in Military Health System (MHS) facilities.
The reports document widespread problems in infection control and patient safety. Some startling findings included that mothers giving birth at MHS facilities were significantly more likely to hemorrhage after childbirth than mothers at civilian hospitals and found that babies born in military hospitals were twice as likely to suffer injuries as newborns nationally.
The DoD has acknowledged systemic problems across the Military Health System (MHS) for active-duty and retired troops similar to the pattern of poor care and management that has plagued the VA.
The MHS has 56 hospitals and 361 clinics worldwide serving 9.6 million beneficiaries in a system that is separate from the VA. The beneficiaries include 1.45 million active-duty service members, 1.7 million active-duty family members and 610,000 retired service members who are served by more than 133,000 military and civilian doctors, nurses, medical educators, researchers and other health professionals.
The problems in care and management at the MHS come at a time when Defense Secretary Hagel and the service chiefs have been seeking to cut or at least slow the growth of health care costs in the military. In testimony to Congress, Hagel has repeatedly pointed out that military health care costs have more than doubled since 2001 to the current annual cost of about $52 billion.
Meanwhile, the MHS has also been undertaking a major shift in the way it delivers services. In March, MHS leadership communicated to its employees that “after more than a decade of war and in a period of national evolution in concepts of health care, the Military Health System must re-engineer processes by which we bring health to the 9.6 million beneficiaries we serve.”
The new MHS plan is to shift the focus to a “patient-centered medical home model,” described as being central to the strategy to form a partnership with each patient for whom the MHS provides primary care.
The home model “holds promise as a way to improve health care in America by transforming how primary care is organized and delivered,” MHS said.