OSD/JOINT SERVICE PROJECTS
INTERAGENCY PROJECTS COMPLETED
OSD/JOINT SERVICE PROJECTS ON-GOING
INTERAGENCY PROJECTS ON-GOING
Description: The Military Services are now transferring directly to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the medical records of Service Members leaving active duty. Records are sent to the VA Records Management Center in St. Louis, Missouri. This gives the VA immediate access to medical treatment records should they need information of that nature to make a determination on service connected disability and compensation claims made by veterans. The new procedures assists the VA in responding in a more expeditious manner to veterans and former Service Members.
Background: In September of 1992 the Army initiated a trial project with the former VA Service Medical Records Center (SMRC) in St. Louis to directly transfer medical records of Service members leaving active duty. By May 1, 1994, the remaining Services had also implemented this program with the VA. The VA Records Management Center (formerly the SMRC) in St. Louis has received approximately 800,000 Service medical records. In October, 1995, a formal Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the VA Under Secretary for Benefits and the USD Personnel & Readiness. This MOU provides broad guidance on administration of this program and outlines each agency's responsibilities.
Accomplishments: The VA has been able to reduce the amount of time it takes to make disability compensation claim determinations thus providing more expeditious response to the veteran and Service member. The VA has reorganized the Service Medical Records Center and the Records Processing Center into one Records Management Center. Each Service has provided a senior enlisted member to interface with VA to respond to requests from the Military Departments which has enhanced the ability of the Records Management Center to respond to DoD. The military records centers have realized savings in reduced need for storage space for records, and have been able to re-direct manpower that originally handled medical records and related requests to other areas.
Status: Completed/Being Monitored. The Army Reserve Personnel Center in St. Louis is currently transferring about 200,000 IRR medical records to the VA Records Management Center. The records are being transferred in lots of 40,000 to allow VA to manage accessing this large number. The Naval Reserve Personnel Center in New Orleans is currently discussing with the VARMC the transfer of 215,000 IRR medical records. And the National Guard Bureau has recently met with the VA to discuss whether or not the VA want medical records for personnel separating from the Guard.
P&R Point of Contact: Marty Hamed/I M Office/696-8710,/5/30/96.
Description: If a Service Member dies of a Service connected cause while on active duty, or within 120 days of being retired from active duty, the survivors are provided with a Death Gratuity Benefit to assist with expenses. When the Member dies on active duty the Service connected determination is made by the DoD and is paid within 48 hours. However, if the Member is retired, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) makes the service connected determination and provides the information back to the DoD so that the payment can be made. This process had caused the time between the death of the former Service member and the time the payment was made to survivors to be inordinately extended to an average of six months. After three meetings between the VA and DoD, with the principle personnel with input into this process, the two agencies were able to re-engineer the way the actions were processed in both agencies and cut the time from six months to an average of six days.
Background: This issue was brought to the attention of the OUSD(P&R) Information Management Office in January of 1995 by personnel from the Defense Retired Pay and Annuity System, a part of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). In February a meeting was held with representatives from the VA, the Casualty Affairs officers from the Military Services, DFAS, OUSD (P&R), and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (OASD (HA)). A preliminary solution was discussed, and members returned to their organizations to coordinate the suggested procedural changes. In March a meeting was held which finalized the re-engineered process with major changes to procedures being made by the VA in centralizing the review of these cases in one central location, by Medical Evaluation Boards sending copies of final determinations/diagnosis directly to the VA, Military Service Casualty officers expediting necessary documentation to VA, and VA turning around service connected determinations within 48 hours and notifying DFAS immediately by fax so that the death gratuity can be paid.
Accomplishments: Survivors are now receiving the death gratuity benefit payment within six to ten days of the former member's death, rather than six months later. DoD and VA were awarded a Hammer Award from Vice President Gore's National Performance Review for this re-engineering effort that cut through red tape to respond to survivors of military personnel in an expeditious manner with care and compassion. In April, 1996, an awards ceremony was held for the USD (P&R) and the USVA Benefits with the DoD Comptroller presenting the Hammer Awards to the two Under Secretaries and certificates to re-engineering team members.
P&R Point of Contact: Marty Hamed/JRIO/696-8710/5/30/96
Description: This project examined the business process of archiving of medical treatment records (MTRs). The work group modeled the current business processes of transferring MTRs to and retrieving archived records from National Personnel Records Center, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The work group also modeled future practices based on long-term opportunities for improvement, automation support. Other opportunities for improvement on DoD's part include the standardization of terminology and disposition instructions; requiring finding aids be maintained; revising request forms for MTRs; and requiring an itemized list of transferred MTRs.
Background: Records eligible for retirement must be sorted and prepared for long term storage by series. All records in a series must be created by the same facility, be of the same type (e.g., military inpatient, dependent outpatient) and reflect the same last year of treatment. Upon retirement, records are collectively stored and indexed for retrieval by series information or accession number, rather than by patient folder. A record is retrieved by first identifying the accession in which a record series should have been retired and then by searching for the requested record within the alphabetic or numeric filing sequence. Current medical treatment facilities' records management is completely manual and practices often deviate from this system making subsequent retrieval difficult.
Issues: The Work Group proposed that an automated system be put in place which would use an electronic record index. The index would be created at the medical treatment facility and identify every medical treatment record shipped to NARA. The index would be updated at NARA to include identifiers to designate the exact location of each record when it is archived. Action on the recommendation for putting an automated system in place rested in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs). The Composite Health Care System (CHCS) is being revised based on the analyses. In addition, an effort to reduce the number of series from 140 to 33 is currently being coordinated with NARA.
Accomplishments: Under the current system, medical treatment record retrieval is costly, not timely, and sometimes does not occur. Analysis reveals that, even with investment costs, all alternatives show savings over the status quo for both DoD and NARA. While the short-term opportunities for improvement will show some benefit, the greatest benefit lies in putting in place an automated system. The project completed the following documents:
· Time-Phased Implementation Plan - December 15, 1995
· Preliminary Functional Economic Analysis - December 15, 1995
· Meetings of Specialists to Consolidate Disposition Schedules and Standardize Terminology - June - September 1996
· Proposed New Disposition Schedules - January 1998
P&R Point of Contact: Bette S. Mahoney/JRIO/696-8710/February 13, 1998
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