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Ask the Doc: How Does MHS GENESIS Improve Patient Safety?

Image of MHS GENESIS, the advanced electronic health record, has features that help improve safety and quality care for patients. (Photo: Robyn Mincher). MHS GENESIS, the advanced electronic health record, has features that help improve safety and quality care for patients. (Photo: Robyn Mincher)

Dear Doc: My clinic transitioned to MHS GENESIS earlier this year. I've heard mixed reviews and I am wondering why the Defense Health Agency moved away from the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application and to this new, untested electronic health record system.
-  Ms. Kahn-Fuzed


Dear Ms. Kahn-Fuzed, in response to your question I contacted U.S. Air Force Col. (Dr.) Thomas Cantilina. Col. Cantilina currently serves as the Military Health System's chief health informatics officer and the deputy MHS EHR functional champion at the DHA. In these roles, he works to integrate the needs of clinicians, health care operators, and technologists to increase digital health solution adoption, create a data-driven enterprise, and transform care across the MHS, beginning with the implementation of MHS GENESIS. He's also a family medicine physician. Here's what Cantilina had to say:

Thanks for your question, Ms. Kahn-Fuzed.

I'd like to reassure you about the functionality and safety features of the new electronic health record.

The Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application worked for what we needed back in 2002. Since then, technology and requirements have changed significantly—and the platform could not keep up. When the Department of Defense set out to replace AHLTA and the other legacy EHR systems, the primary requirement was two-fold: first, patient safety is paramount; and second, ensure all capabilities from the legacy systems are met.

While this EHR is new to our patients, the system itself isn't new and is based on Oracle Health's (Cerner) Millennium. This system has been used by civilian hospitals and clinics for more than a decade.

MHS GENESIS is also constantly improving, which allows us to leverage the same upgrades and updates being used by civilian health care organizations.

Integrated Portal

Unlike our legacy EHRs, MHS GENESIS provides one system replacing numerous legacy systems to include—AHLTA, Composite Health Care System, Essentris, Corporate Dental System. Having an “off-the-shelf” EHR allows MHS GENESIS to integrate with civilian hospitals and networks via the Joint Health Information Exchange.

Improving patient safety is a primary principle of MHS GENESIS. The new EHR allows providers to use one system to view patients’ information, such as prescriptions, allergies, radiology, and clinical notes to support the continuity of care for service members, veterans, and beneficiaries like you. Having all this information in one place will not only ease permanent change of station transitions but will provide improved continuity of care when a patient is traveling or evacuating from a natural disaster.


One of the highest-risk areas for patient safety is medication management. MHS GENESIS includes important features to mitigate this risk. For example, all medications, including controlled substances, can now be electronically sent by your off-base providers to a military pharmacy. Electronic scripts are highly encouraged because they are safer and faster.

Additionally, prior authorizations are now approved rapidly after submission and travel with you, reducing extra appointments and paperwork for a beneficiary when they PCS—this also reduces delays in care.


Improving medical safety is a priority for DHA. One of the ways to do this is through Bar Code Medication Administration. BCMA technology helps prevent medication errors by verifying information—such as the right patient, right dose, and right drug. These to enhance patient safety features mitigate the potential for error.

In 2023, MHS GENESIS’s new BCMA capability has improved patient safety for military hospitals and clinics.

The majority of DHA inpatient hospitals that deployed MHS GENESIS achieved the high-quality standards for BCMA. Additionally, in the coming years and months, more and more military hospitals and clinics will implement BCMA capabilities.

These are just some of the MHS GENESIS features that help improve safety and quality care for patients.

For more information, visit the MHS GENESIS Spotlight Page.

Note: A Common Access Card, DS Logon Account or Personal Identity Verification is required to access the Patient Portal.

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Last Updated: January 09, 2024
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