The Defense Health Agency director visited the JBER hospital Aug. 18, during her tour of many healthcare facilities to determine which plans and practices need to be developed, advanced or sustained.
“I think the DHA has the opportunity to create solutions that we haven’t been able to pursue very efficiently or very effectively when we’ve been trying to do it as three separate services,” said Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, DHA director. “[The JBER hospital] is an area where I’m [very] impressed by the delivery of care that the Air Force and Army provide to our Soldiers and our Airmen.
“I think the JBER hospital is a great example of how the departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs can work together to take care of their patient population,” said Bono.
The DHA is a joint agency that enables the Army, Navy and Air Force medical services to provide a healthy force to combatant commands in both peacetime and wartime, according to health.mil.
“I’m here because one of the responsibilities I have as the director of the DHA is to oversee the Tricare program,” Bono said. “We have an office here to help make sure that the network we create is sufficient and complementary to what the medical clinic is able to provide to all the beneficiaries in the Alaska area.”
Bono said she wants all beneficiaries’ needs met, and wants to help the services achieve that goal.
“During the last 15 years of war, we’ve really revolutionized the care of trauma patients and casualties,” Bono said. “If you had a pulse and you happened to show up to one of our outreaches, combat support hospitals, or expeditionary medical facilities, then you would have [had] a 99 percent chance of survival.”
In these locations, the military had medical experts from multiple fields, within the Army, Navy and Air Force, working together to get the mission done.
“That tri-service approach is why we had such a high survivability,” Bono said. “We came together, realized our collective goal, and went after it regardless of our uniform.”
When wounded warriors returned to their units, families and homes, the best practice was a holistic approach integrating family and friends, not a single or episodic care practice, Bono said. That model of care is what the DHA would like to provide in more recovery and rehabilitation practices.
The biggest challenge restricting these efforts is institutional habits, Bono said. Technology and healthcare knowledge are constantly growing, but some people want to continue doing an outdated procedure or practice because it has been done that way for so long.
“The time is now to design a healthcare system around our patients, instead of asking our patients to design their lives around our healthcare system,” Bono said.