Military health review verifies a pearl: secure doctor-patient email

The recent 90-day review of the Military Healthcare System found it  “comparable in access, quality and safety to average private-sector health care,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a press conference last week.

That was disappointing to hear for a medical system that, for decades, has described itself as overall excellent and among the best in the country. 

“Overall, MHS performance mirrors what we see in the private sector: a good deal of mediocrity, pockets of excellence and some serious gaps,” wrote Janet M. Corrigan of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, one of the outside experts who helped with the review.

The report and appendix run more than 700 pages including 10 pages just to list and define a sea of acronyms associated military health care.  But the report also turns a spotlight on a new tool that patients, staff and outside health experts agree is improving access to care and perhaps quality too: a secure messaging system between patients and military physicians.

The report endorses it, urging full implementation and careful monitoring to ensure that it achieves its potential for beneficiaries and in support of the military’s “patient-centered medical home” concept of care. 

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