Military health providers gave low marks to the Defense Department’s new electronic health records system, ranking it behind the DoD’s legacy systems.

A Government Accountability Office survey found that military clinicians were less satisfied with the MHS Genesis system’s efficiency, response time and care in terms of quality and providing benefit to the patients when compared with the department’s prior system and systems used by providers of civilian health care, according to a report released last week.

The only metric for which MHS Genesis surpassed another system was downtime — the amount of time the system was not available for use — for which 49% of survey respondents rated it as satisfactory, compared with 45% of those assessing the legacy systems. According to the report, 67% of those who use the commercial version of the Oracle Cerner product rated it satisfactory for downtime.

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The DoD completed its rollout of the system, which it purchased in 2015, to all military treatment facilities this year, with its introduction at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, Illinois, in March.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which decided in 2018 to also purchase the Oracle Cerner system, has introduced it at five health systems, plus the Lovell Federal Health Care Center, which it co-manages with the DoD.

The VA’s rollout at additional sites, however, has been on hold since last year when users encountered issues with the system that jeopardized patient safety.

The GAO study found that DoD clinicians’ satisfaction with the system rose slightly from 2022 to 2023 but still ranked last when compared with other systems, with the exception of downtime.

And according to the watchdog, the DoD has not set any goals for improving user satisfaction.

“Without goals for improving user satisfaction, the department will be limited in its ability to measure progress, plan for improvements, and ensure the system meets users’ needs,” the report noted.

The report also assessed the system’s deployment in March at the Lovell facility and found that, while the DoD and VA were able to successfully deploy it, some integration issues remain — both in the pharmacy system, which did not receive the latest module update, according to the VA, and in the dental clinic.

In fact, the report said, the DoD’s dental software system, called Dentrix, overall continues to have “persistent problems.”

As a result, the Defense Department is exploring alternatives to the dental records system, according to the report.

The GAO recommended that the DoD address issues with integration at the Lovell facility, set targets for user satisfaction, and develop an alternative to Dentrix. The agency also recommended that the VA tackle integration barriers at Lovell.

Both departments concurred with the recommendations, according to the report.

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