DOD gives medical systems clean bill of health

The Defense Department successfully completed an end-to-end Year 2000 test of the computer systems in its Medical Health Care System and found no failures due to bad Year 2000 date code.

The Pentagon said its computer systems that support the Military Health System, which serves active duty and retired military personnel, scored 100 percent in the large-scale test designed to stress all components of the system. The test included systems of managed care contractors and medical supply vendors.

Dr. Sue Bailey, assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs, said of the test results: "These underscore confidence in our ability to continue the delivery of quality health care services irrespective of Y2K." Bailey added that these successful tests show that DOD "is in the forefront of the health care industry in its preparations for the Year 2000."

To ensure the validity of the testing procedures, the DOD inspector general and the General Accounting Office provided independent oversight of the testing.

End-to-end tests are designed to ensure seamless operations between interconnected computerized systems during Year 2000 date changes. MHS conducted these tests on clusters of systems critical to the delivery of high-quality health care. Functions within each of the tested areas were evaluated to guarantee normal operations during several date transitions, such as the change of the fiscal year (Oct. 1, 1999), the calendar year and the extra day for the leap year (Feb. 29, 2000).

During the testing, technicians set system dates forward to the Year 2000, and actual users tested the systems by simulating patient transactions. Then technicians re-evaluated the systems for continued operations without disruption due to the date change.

Simulations included enrolling patients in the DOD health plan, checking beneficiary eligibility, accessing computerized medical information, verifying immunization data and processing patients' claims.

Testing also included some non-MHS systems that are important to beneficiary transactions, such as the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

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