DOD's e-health record system to be ready in a year

"CHCS II is dead; long live AHLTA!"

The Defense Department plans to finish deploying its health care information system, worth more than $1 billion, within a year, said Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs.

The Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA), formerly known as the Composite Health Care System II, has been in development since 1998. The name change, which Winkenwerder announced last November, signifies a system that, in addition to the Theater Medical Information Program, will provide access to military personnel medical records from the battlefield to hospitals.

Winkenwerder said AHLTA represents a “revolution in battlefield medicine…and raised level of performance to an all time high.”

Dr. David Chu, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, said AHLTA is important to treating deployed military personnel because it allows quick and easy access to medical records wherever the patients are. “AHLTA is essential for deployed forces,” Chu said.

The Defense Department is working to ensure that those records are accessible by the Department of Veterans Affairs once a member of the military leaves the service, Chu added. DOD has already transferred millions of records to the VA, Chu said.

Military medical personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are working closer to the frontlines than they ever have, Winkenwerder said, adding that advances in battlefield medicine mean that many soldiers who would have died in previous wars now live.

Advances in the treatment of battlefield wounds is exemplified by the Military Health System care of ABC television reporter Bob Woodruff, wounded yesterday by a car bomb in Iraq. The Air Force airlifted Woodruff, who is now undergoing treatment at the Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

“We’re taking care of [Woodruff], and he will get the best care anywhere [in the world] from our system,” Winkenwerder said. Winkenwerder added that he has received periodic updates on Woodruff’s condition since the reporter was wounded yesterday.

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