by Master Sgt. Marvin R. Preston
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs
5/19/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- In
line with President Barack Obama's Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record
Initiative, the office of the Air National Guard Surgeon General has
recently begun the process that will revolutionize how Air National
Guard health records are stored.
The ANG SG team's transition plan to digitize paper medical records will
meet a Department of Defense mandate and will allow records to follow
military members when they separate or retire from the military and
visit local Department of Veterans Affairs health centers.
A key component of this effort is the DOD Healthcare Artifacts and Image
Management Solution, which will provide health care providers global
access and awareness of artifacts and images generated during the health
care delivery process.
"This project touches every Guardsman and affects their access to care
and VA treatment," said Senior Master Sgt. Summer N. Brown, manager of
Medical Readiness Operations at the Air National Guard Readiness Center.
"The ANG Surgeon General has been working over the past two years to
comply with the DOD mandate and with the assistance of Brig. Gen.
Michael Taheri, [commander of the ANGRC]; an initiative was established
to fund 89 medical groups with a full time National Guard day manpower
equivalent to scan all paper records."
The Air Force Medical Operations Agency at Kelly Field, Texas, AFMOA
Central Cell and 149th Medical Group, San Antonio, Texas, and the 59th
Medical Treatment Facility, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, were
all essential to the successful start of the project.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, the military service departments, except the
United States Coast Guard, stopped sending paper Service Treatment
Records to the VA for separating or retiring service members. The
military service departments, through the military treatment facility,
scan completed and certified electronic STRs into the HAIMS. When the
military service departments place the STR documentation into HAIMS, as
the authoritative record, the military service departments will destroy
the paper documentation.
"The Central Processing Cell has unique expertise and experience in the
bulk scanning of Service Treatment Records, including those of
government civilians and a small contingent of service members working
the Air Force STR disposition program," said Lt. Col. Craig Lambert,
deputy chief of the Health Benefits Division, Air Force Medical
Operations Agency. "The center provided one-on-one, bulk STR scanning
training to medical personnel from all 89 ANG wings, over a three-month
period to ensure that the standard followed at the [Central Processing
Cell] is also followed at every ANG medical unit. This training was
crucial to establish competencies, eliminate variation and ensure
efficiency of operations for the ANG."
The establishment of the process and its management took the work of
several offices, agencies and multiple subject matter experts.
"The Air Force STR disposition process takes a team effort and having
all Air Force components work together is in the best interest of
service members and allows the VA to accomplish their mission to
properly and timely adjudicate compensation, pension or claims," said
The creation and implementation of the training curriculum was assigned
to ANG personnel liaised to the Air Force STR Central Processing Cell.
Staff Sgt. Terri De Guzman, Guardsman from the 146th Medical Group,
Channel Islands, California, the primary author of the training plan and
Master Sgt. Katiria I. Sanchez, an instructor liaised from the 129th
MG, Moffett Field, California, trained personnel representing each ANG
medical group, in the correct procedures of HAIMS digitization.
"Now we can go seek care anywhere and have our information in one
location and accessible to all medical facilities," said Sanchez. "This
process will assist with expediting the amount of time it takes for
medical records to be made available to the VA for our members who are
seeking medical care and benefits. If anything this is the best part of
digitizing our medical records, it is taking care of our people."
Another benefit to digitizing records is the decreased cost of shipment
to and from the STR Processing Cell. This eliminates the possibility of
records being misplaced and vital information being inadvertently
According to the 2012 Electronic Health Record DOD Factsheet the
Department of Defense and VA share more health information than any two
organizations in the nation. The continued improvements in information
sharing and records portability will help improve the continuity of care
for service members and veterans, help ensure that physicians have the
most accurate medical history of a patient, and improve patient safety.
Key Benefits of HAIMS:
- Access point for DoD providers to view VA artifacts and images
- Population health and medical research for wounded warriors
- Mass scanning for Veterans Benefits Administration compensation and pension benefits determination
- Mass ingestion capability to external repositories
- Use of electronic STRs to initiate paperless disability benefits
claims will streamline the claims adjudication process, reducing the
likelihood of new claims from being added to the VA's disability claims
- Reduced cost for shipping of records