By David Blackburn, Editor-in-Chief, FedHealthIT Magazine

Established in 2012, the Interagency Care Coordination Committee (IC3) is tasked with implementing a joint, standard model of collaboration to deal with complex cases of care that will require a warm handoff from the Department of Defense (DoD) to Veterans Affairs (VA). This effort is designed to ease the burden for both the service members and Veterans who have suffered illnesses or injuries so severe as to require the expertise provided across the two departments. I had an opportunity to connect with LT Inga Keithly recently to discuss her role in leading the development of a new technology solution designed to help ensure a smooth and seamless transition.

 

On the driving force behind the new DoD Case Management system

“More than 5 years ago, challenges remained, as the transition of care for our most severely wounded, ill, and injured service members was not always synchronous and there were gaps in the level and types of services being provided. In response to a Congressional mandate, the DoD made it a primary goal for each of the Military Services to ensure these service members were transitioned successfully over to the VA.

In its inception, each service aligned itself with this Congressional command, but this created a set of stove piped solutions and approaches. In 2013, IC3 decided the best course was to develop a joint solution. As part of an initial analysis effort, we were tasked with evaluating the various technology solutions used by the different services, along with the current solution being used by the VA. In January of 2015, it was decided that we would go with a single technology solution – DoD CMS.”

On the purpose of DoD CMS and the technology used

“A primary goal of the DoD CMS project is to automate the workflow and create a bi-directional exchange of information between the DoD CMS and the VA’s FCMT (Federal Case Management Tracking tool) ICP module. It will be as simple as pressing a share button that sends the data elements over the VA solution and begins the process whereby a lead coordinator from VA is assigned and eventually the case can be transitioned in full to the VA. Much of this is based on the DD-214, which is the release of the service member with all of their record information.

DoD CMS is built using a government off-the-shelf (GOTS) product hosted by DISA. This GOTS product was initially funded and developed by the Marine Corps and it was managed by Warrior Care Policy up until this past March. The underlying CMS solution is used widely across DoD.“

On the most innovative aspects of this program

“Government IT solutions tend to be almost 18 months behind the curve, and many times you will find that the solutions being delivered are addressing problems that are more than 5-years old.

Rather than taking a waterfall approach where you deliver an IT solution, hand it to the customer and hope it works; we are using an agile methodology, specifically the SAFe agile framework, that helps ensure we are developing on cadence and releasing on demand. Our stakeholders are actively involved in the release planning and this ensures a continuous chain of feedback.

We have also shown our ability to develop an environment in the cloud. We chose to go with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment, as it offered the most flexibility in terms of scheduling, maintenance, and cost, while allowing us to get things up and running quickly. We wanted to be forward thinking, but safe, and AWS allowed us the timeframe to meet our deadlines without breaking the bank.“

On Expected Results

“It is important to remember that we are dealing with catastrophic injuries and many of the most severely injured and ill service members. The goal is not just to get from point A to point B, but is rather a successful and progressive movement of the service member to a different facet of their life.

One of the most immediate benefits will be the ability to easily gauge and track metrics. For example, at any time we will know exactly how many active cases are supporting severely injured and wounded service members. Right now, this data is being reported on a service by service basis and much is done manually. DoD CMS will provide insight into how many service members are receiving what services and the status of those who are transitioning over to the VA.“

On Future Plans

The acute goal is getting to full operational capability for interoperability with the bi-directional data elements flowing between the two systems.

Policy has been passed that states all services will be expected to move to the joint DoD CMS system and part of the intermediate plan is to ramp up the different services on DoD CMS and start the process of sun-setting redundant systems. We will try to ensure we are not creating extra work and that the solution meets all of the needs of the different services.

One long term possibility that we are looking at is the implementation of an enterprise ECM tool. A couple examples of this type of product include a tool the Coast Guard has been using successfully and another being piloted by the SPORTS program within our portfolio.

 

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