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Home News Uniformed Services University top doc: MHS focus in peacetime is readiness and innovation

Uniformed Services University top doc: MHS focus in peacetime is readiness and innovation

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The Military Health System (MHS) is at a pivotal time as it transfers from wartime to peacetime. The dean of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences said trying to switch from a military to a civilian health care organization is not the military’s aim. 

“After more than 13 years of war, the MHS is being challenged to recapture care at home and achieve the Quadruple Aim of increased readiness, better health, better care and lower costs,” said Dr. Arthur Kellermann during the Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “As a civilian doc for more than 30 years, I don’t believe the MHS can accomplish the quadruple aim by emulating private health sector competitors. We should leapfrog them instead.” 





Civilian health organizations and the MHS share a commitment to high-quality care, but their priorities differ. MHS seeks to lower costs and improve population health, while civilian health care systems strive to increase revenue and place less emphasis on public health. Most importantly, MHS’ top priority is readiness. Civilian health care systems don’t have this obligation. 

“The task before us is difficult but doable,” Kellermann said. “If we start playing by our rules rather than somebody else’s, we can improve access to care, promote population health, reduce per capita costs and generate high-value research. By drawing on our inherent strengths and capabilities, including a highly talented and versatile workforce, we’ll not only ‘win the peace,’ we’ll be better prepared for the next war.” 

The military can learn a lot from civilian researchers and health systems, Kellermann notes. The research symposium was created to bring the military’s top health leaders, researchers and clinicians together with civilian academic scientists, international partners and industry to discuss research and related health care initiatives. The collaborative environment enables frank discussions of global health, trauma care and regenerative medicine, among other topics. The knowledge and ideas from these interactions help MHS advance military health and strengthen important service-specific medical capabilities. 

During the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military’s Joint Trauma System improved combat casualty care from the point of injury all the way through rehabilitation. In fact, despite progressively severe injuries, the U.S. military’s case-fatality rate declined during the course of the wars to the lowest level the world has ever seen. Kellermann said MHS must capitalize on the nimbleness it developed over 13 years of war. 

“These lessons came at high cost and must not be forgotten,” Kellerman said to his audience. “You must not only remember what was learned, but how you learned it. Let’s apply the same problem-solving approach to the challenges we face today. Nearly every military doctor and nurse I’ve spoken to recalls the intense demands of working downrange. However, all of them wistfully recall that they could actually get things done. The best advice I can offer the MHS today is to work every day like you’re downrange.”


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