Brag Blog: HAIMS Nails it for Veterans

The great thing about a career in health IT is that we have so many problems to solve. The drag is that it occasionally feels as if we operate on a treadmill of ever-receding achievement. In this space, I want to recognize a solid achievement in health IT in which Lantana played a part.

It takes a village to raise a piece of software to the point where it can pass muster within the Military Health System. Many projects come to the drawing board, few are chosen, fewer implemented and yet fewer still go out in the world and make a difference. HAIMS – Healthcare Artifacts Images Management System – is one that did so. David M. Bowen, director of health information technology at the Defense Health Agency in an article from the American Forces Press Service, asserted that HAIMS will speed up the adjudication of veteran’s benefits through a new interface to the Veteran’s Benefits Administration. The system has already proved its worth within DoD and between DoD and the VA by making a complete record accessible.

“Complete medical records are kept on patients while under DoD care and also include information that comes from the commercial sector. The electronic records are ‘readily available and accessible by our DoD clinicians, anytime, anywhere in the world,’ Bowen said. Digitizing the full record at the time of a service member’s separation provides VA with ‘a history of the service member’s care,’ and is as up-to-date as the last medical appointment….”

This system originated as a sketch drawn by Rick Geimer, Lantana CTO. Rick worked with Col. (ret.) Barclay Butler, then at Apptis, on the floor of my Boca Raton suite during time outs from the September, 2006 HL7 Plenary Working Group. Based on that design, Apptis won the contract to build DFIEA – Documents, Files, and Images Enabled AHLTA, AHLTA being the MHS electronic record – with Rick as the Technical Lead. The DFIEA contract was conceived and executed under the direction of Col. (ret.) Andre Marinkovich, MD, whose vision of clinical documents complementing the structured EHR was inspired, in part, by working with his predecessor, Col. (ret.) Dave Williams, RN, who had brought us into MHS to support a Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) based solution to referrals.

From the success of that intensive year of development, MHS issued an RFP to build HAIMS, based on the DFIEA prototype. Barclay, then at Harris, partnered with Evolvent, won the contract and brought us onboard to support development of the software that would complement, and in a sense complete, AHLTA.

HAIMS is a distributed, enterprise-wide registry/repository that, to the MHS user, presents as an integral part of the patient record, along with the structured data captured by AHLTA and is also a gateway to the VA and Vista. According to Bowen, “…we’re going to make life much easier for Veterans Benefits Administration staff to see DoD-specific health care data on our service members to help them with the process of adjudicating a claim.”

While we still have a mountain of problems to solve in HIT – we can check that one off the list. Now, what would it take to get everyone connected to a HAIMS?