FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
There was a time when the Air Force was one prototype aircraft that barely flew a hundred yards during its first flight. Aircraft would change radically the following decades, going from fledging flights to flying non-stop around the world, breaking the sound barrier and even blasting off into space.
Akin to the history of flight, medical advances have been urged along by growing demands to keep Airmen mission-ready while taking care of their families and veterans.
Team Fairchild medical providers have been continually working to deliver unparalleled patient care while being the first in the Department of Defense to use and develop the new electronic health record MHS Genesis, released in 2017.
“Unlike our civilian counterparts, military medicine is spread out to all parts of the globe, in every time zone and hemisphere,” said Lt. Col. Michael McCarthy, 92nd Medical Operations Squadron commander. “Due to that unique set of needs, we knew a new system would need to be customized to do everything we require.”
MHS Genesis takes advantage of modern networking features and interactive websites to help providers communicate with each other, while empowering customers to own their healthcare by providing access to their records. This ability was a game-changing shift from the previous environment.
Dozens of teams painstakingly prepared and trained to deploy the new healthcare system, but there was still much more work to do to render it fully operational.
“Genesis is a far more powerful healthcare tool, but we are building it while learning to ‘fly’ it, adding new capabilities as we go,” McCarthy said.
“[The old health record] and MHS Genesis are comparable to a 1970s cellphone versus an iPhone 10,” added Col. Michaelle Guerrero, 92nd Medical Group commander. “They both make calls, but you can do so much more with the smartphone once you learn to use it to its full potential. Adapting the new system and implementing it smartly was a huge undertaking asked of the 92nd MDG.”
Implementing MHS Genesis didn’t only alter how the MDG did business.
“There was a culture shift that happened here due to the new system,” Guerrero said. “Before, we were smart medics that would tell you what your healthcare was, but now patients can see everything we put into the system which stimulated new communication with their providers.”
Soon after, the MDG noticed other positive changes.
A spirit of innovation took hold and created greater communication between Airmen, supervisors and commanders. The growing culture of communication quickly transformed into several focused ‘think tanks’ throughout the MDG that valued good ideas above all, never letting position and or rank get in the way.
“This challenge brought us closer as a team, because we had to own this responsibility,” Guerrero said. “[Our Airmen] asked, ‘Why are we doing something this way?’ ‘Is there a better method we can use for a procedure?’ ‘How can this become more effective?’”
“Innovation may sound cliché, but I’ve seen it persistently in the interactions from this team. This is where our newest Airmen have shined, challenging the old way of doing things and working with senior leaders to produce results,” Guerrero added.
From the oldest doctors who know a lot about patient interaction to the newest tech-savvy Airmen, this project created open communication lines between all levels and areas, each playing to their strengths so they could learn from each other and share solutions.
“Our leadership has worked hard to empower us to find a fix on our own,” said Maj. Heather Kincaid, 92nd Medical Support Squadron pharmacy operations chief. “Most of the time we can work through it; we have a sharp crew that knows our areas and will figure it out, but we also know support is there if it’s beyond us.”
The 92nd MDG may only operate at a wing-level facility, but their efforts have reverberated throughout the Air Force and the nation, affecting the entirety of the DoD branches and employees. This humble team of hard-working medics received 23 accolades in recent years for their work on MHS Genesis, several of those on the national level, and its members have continuously been recognized by the 92nd ARW, the Air Force and the DoD as possessing an outstanding ability to provide exceptional service and keep Airmen fighting.
“I was very impressed with (the 92nd MDG) and the progress they have made,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, Defense Health Headquarters assistant director, in a recent letter to Guerrero. Payne also added that while it’s a small facility, these Airmen have been pathfinders in developing solutions for all the armed services. The staff’s competence with Genesis was clearly seen in even the youngest Airmen from Family Health to the Pharmacy, displaying what it takes to become peer experts.
The MDG culture won out over the challenges they’ve faced the past two years. There were no isolated efforts; everyone was committed to finding solutions. This commitment created tighter bonds and cultivated pride for each little victory that everyone knew would add-up to successful program launch.
“We work hard to get to ‘yes’ improving healthcare each day,” Guerrero said. “MHS Genesis is a new, amazing tool that enables us to do so much, but it’s worthless without devoted Airmen who go above and beyond to make it work and still keep a smile … that culture is what defines this medical group, and I’m so very proud of it.”
The 92nd MDG is a shining example of the Air Force’s commitment to Fly in the face of challenges, Fight to find solutions and to Win by continuing to keep Airmen mission-ready.