Operating at the speed of relevance, key to great results, maturity of DHA


Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, senior enlisted leader for the Defense Health Agency, answering a question during a DHA town hall with the task force, Nov. 16, 2022. (Photo by Robert Hammer, MHS Communications).

watershed change

The pandemic coincided with a generational change of the military health system, which included the transition of more than 700 brick-and-mortar military medical hospitals and clinics from each service to the DHA. From a contract, facilities, logistics and medical equipment perspective, this transfer equates to $64 billion worth of assets that DHA now oversees. This change led to the creation of more than 20 direct reporting markets, two overseas Defense Health Agency field offices in Europe and the Indo-Pacific, smaller market and standalone military treatment facility organizations, and the continued rollout of new electronic health records. System, MHS Origin.

To elaborate on MHS genesis: “We are now over two-thirds rolled out, and there has been no pause in MHS infection.” MHS Genesis “will be done ahead of schedule and under budget,” Place said. “It’s a great achievement.”

more change

On top of all those changes, more than 45,000 civilian employees transitioned from the Services to the DHA during the three months. “This is extraordinary. This is the largest personnel transfer in the DOD since the creation of the Air Force in 1947,” Place said. All told, the current workforce consists of approximately 150,000 uniformed and civilian employees.

DHA also transitioned to MED365, a DHA-managed, cloud-based office and support service for the entire military health system, to provide unique patient privacy for the MHS community and enhanced cyber security to protect medical systems. Migrations of this scale typically take 18 to 24 months, but DHA’s dedicated team of more than 200 information technology professionals has successfully integrated more than 180,000 global users, 20 terabytes of data, and 20,000 non-individual entities, such as organizational mailboxes and distribution lists. Successfully migrated to this new platform in three months.

Future and Ready, Reliable Care

“Ultimately it is the result that counts,” Place said.

The last resort is “what happened to the patient,” Place said. “That’s why, for me, good results will always be the first priority.”

For patients, “Do they feel that we are interested in them? And if they had a choice, would they always choose us? Because they know that no one cares more about them than we do. That’s what a ‘satisfied patient’ means.” Means,” Place said.

From a full employee perspective: “Am I happy that this is where I work? And, if I had a choice… would I choose here over somewhere else?”

“I see the agency moving forward in three words: adaptable, resilient and courageous,” Gragg said. Even if “we fall…we’re going to bounce back.”

final thoughts

Place closed the discussion by reflecting on his appreciation for the workforce. “I am nearing the end of a military medical career that I have loved and I will be honest – the closer I get to retirement, the more encouraged I am about the future of military medicine. And it is solely because of you from—the people who make our health system thrive every day.”

He continued, “I am so proud of your efforts, your resilience, your dedication to this once-in-a-lifetime change in our system. Thank you for your willingness to care for people and each other.

He thanked the headquarters staff for “maturity within the speed of relevance” as they respond to support requests from field and combatant commands. “And I would like you to remember that phrase. It doesn’t matter how fast you think you’re going. It only matters if you’re fast enough for the people you support.” And that’s the speed of relevance,” Place said.

His successor, US Army Major General Promoter (Dr.) Telita Crosland, currently deputy surgeon general of the US Army, as well as Gragg’s successor, US Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Tanya Johnson, currently the senior enlisted leader for the DHA Director of Staff. A change of directorship is expected in early January, and Johnson is expected to assume his new duties in March.

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