Robert Kneschke -

Department of Defense Launches COVID-19 Vaccine EHR Solution

The Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccine EHR solution deployed at the largest Marine Corps base.

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced it has integrated a COVID-19 vaccine EHR solution into its new EHR system, MHS GENESIS, to help clinicians identify and register patients.

DoD collaborated with Cerner to develop the EHR solution, called MassVax.

The solution pre-populates EHR patient registration data in real-time to streamline the vaccination process. A patient can scan her identification card instead of filling out a traditional paper intake form. Then, the clinician can administer the shot at that exact time for increased documentation accuracy.

"MassVax is designed to help us quickly record who gave what vaccine, as well as when and where it was given," Thomas Cantilina, chief health informatics officer at Defense Health Agency, said in a statement.

"Additionally, and more importantly, MHS GENESIS and its MassVax capability have enhanced safety and efficiency at our COVID-19 vaccine sites, through its ability to provide clinicians with patient data related to drug and allergy interactions - prior to vaccines being administered."

As of March 5, DoD had administered roughly 1.3 million total COVID-19 doses at 335 sites. Local pharmacies had delivered over 81,000 vaccinations to MHS beneficiaries. Thus far, DoD has administered 84 percent of vaccines it has received, according to DoD.

MassVax initially launched at Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms in California, which supports the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, the largest Marine Corps base in the world. Health IT professionals integrated the tool in September 2020 to give clinicians time to adapt to the tool, DoD said.

"Because an average Marine battalion is around 1,000 members strong, we needed something that was quick and efficient," said Danielle Vasquez, immunizations program manager at the Twentynine Palms COVID-19 vaccine program. "We've had great success with our through-put. We can vaccinate up to 150 (service members) per hour, and that's not even using MassVax at its full capability."

Although MassVax launched during COVID-19, DoD and Cerner started developing the solution prior to the outbreak, Cantilina said. However, COVID-19 triggered an accelerated timeline to develop and integrate the solution into MHS GENESIS.

"As far as the post-pandemic use of MassVax is concerned, we not only plan on using it, but the capability was being developed for our use prior to the COVID-19 outbreak," Cantilina explained. "In fact, our teams were particularly interested in using MassVax to facilitate the rapid administration of vaccines to troops preparing to deploy, as well as quickly administering vaccines to new recruits preparing for boot camp."

The full MHS GENESIS implementation was recently delayed in April 2020 due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Cantilina said health IT teams still executed the MHS GENESIS deployment in a safe manner.

Cantilina said MHS GENESIS helps clinicians by "making it easy to do the right thing." The new EHR system "leverages standardized workflows in each clinical area of practice, whether you're a doctor, nurse or technician. This simplifies how our providers care for patients as the system is designed to walk them through certain aspects of each patient encounter," he added.

MassVax also includes CDS alerts to notify providers of potential patient risks, such as drug allergies or interactions, Cantilina added.

Along with the vaccine solution, Vasquez said its MHS GENESIS implementation has been a positive for Twentynine Palms clinicians and patients.

"I love it," Vasquez concluded. "I'm excited about having one military record for everyone. And I love that there's a patient portal available, especially since a lot of our families travel and it's great for them to have access to their vaccination records and their actual patient history anywhere they go. It's amazing."

MHS GENESIS is set to be fully deployed by the end of 2023, according to DoD.

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