Government and Regulations

Bono Addresses DHA Challenges at AMSUS Meeting

Newly named Defense Health Agency director aims for more transparent and collaborative delivery of health care services across the military.



Two months after the Defense Health Agency (DHA) reached full operational capacity and 1 month after being named DHA director, VADM Raquel C. Bono opened the 2015 AMSUS conference with an ambitious agenda for the agency. “We want to be very responsive to what our patients are telling us,” she insisted.

Related: Bono to Replace Robb at Defense Health Agency

Bono, who recently replaced Lt. Gen. Douglas J. Robb, touted a number of significant DHA recent achievements. “Our ability to move patients from the frontlines back to definitive care was something that never happened before and could only happen because the services worked together,” Bono explained.

New data analytics capabilities, for example, allowed the DHA to identify unusually high expenditures for compounded drugs. Through a combination of legislative and policy changes, the DHA reined in the costs and in some cases collaborated with the Department of Justice to go after the pharmacies for predatory practices.

Related: New Guidance on Compounded Drugs

The DHA goals of increasing both collaboration and transparency are built on the implementation of an off-the-shelf electronic health record (EHR) system. The DHA awarded a $4.3 billion contract to Leidos, Inc., which will cover more than 205,000 health care providers and more than 9.5 million beneficiaries. According to Bono, the new EHR system may eventually allow patients to have increased access to their health records and a better understanding of delays in making appointments while streamlining research and improving delivery of care for service members on base or at forward deployed locations. The new EHR system also may facilitate better communication and interaction with VA facilities.

Related: Preparing the Military Health System for the 21st Century

Still, the DHA faces daunting challenges in implementing the new system across U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Army facilities. Bono noted that the DHA had identified more than 800 processes that needed to be standardized. Even accessing already existing data remains a challenge for the DHA, which it had not previously handled in a standardized way.


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