Medical ADP Systems:

Defense Achieves Worldwide Deployment of Composite Health Care System

AIMD-96-39: Published: Apr 5, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 5, 1996.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) Composite Health Care System (CHCS), focusing on: (1) DOD efforts to complete deployment of CHCS to military medical treatment facilities worldwide; (2) DOD efforts to address previously identified problems; and (3) a new CHCS operational issue.

GAO found that: (1) DOD completed deployment of CHCS to 526 medical treatment facilities worldwide, which was difficult because of the system's complexity and the number of sites involved; (2) two DOD officials ensured the deployment's success by providing leadership and using fundamental information management practices; (3) DOD expects CHCS benefits to exceed its costs by $1.3 billion over the system's expected life; (4) CHCS should improve scheduling, give greater and quicker access to patient information, and increase the timeliness of medical care; (5) DOD has made progress in addressing its two previously identified problems by developing a prototype clinically oriented graphical user interface to make patient order-entry less cumbersome and strengthening the tools and methodology needed to manage CHCS performance; (6) DOD has updated its CHCS performance management plan and developed performance simulation models for each CHCS computer platform; (7) the lack of an effective plan for rapidly repairing or replacing CHCS equipment damaged by disaster remains a problem; and (8) DOD did not address this problem because of cost concerns and a lack of accurate information, but it is reconsidering its options for providing equipment adequate backup.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and has developed policies and procedures for the rapid repair or replacement of CHCS equipment damaged in disasters. The CHCS II Program Manager approved the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), a comprehensive contingency planning blueprint intended as a guide for MTF commanders to use to incorporate CHCS II into their overall contingency plans. According to DOD, complying with the disaster recovery and contingency planning practices in the COOP will help to ensure a more reliable day-to-day processing environment and reduce the exposure of CHCS II to major interruptions of service. The COOP includes a requirement that it be tested at each MTF periodically to ensure the details and persons in each MTF-specific plan are adequate for current contingency planning conditions. As of September 22, 1999, DOD indicated that 55 percent of the CHCS host MTFs have completed their annual test of the COOP.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to develop, test, and implement DOD-wide policies and procedures for the rapid repair or replacement of CHCS equipment damaged in disasters.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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