The U.S. military is continuing to play catch up when it comes to integrating vital technologies to achieve healthcare goals, a Department of Defense (DoD) official said today.

Seileen Mullen, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (DHA), discussed how the armed services have “dropped the ball” when it comes to telehealth during a keynote address at ACT-IAC’s Health Innovation Summit event today.

“We are behind on implementing telehealth across all the services and within DHA… we’re trying really hard to play catch up and figure out what we’re doing on that,” said Mullen.

Pushing the need for more telehealth and virtual health services is a shortage of healthcare providers.

“As many of you know, we have a real issue in the healthcare system of provider shortages, nursing shortages, medical assistant shortages,” Mullen said. “We’re not going to buy our way out of it … so we’re delivering care virtually [as] one of our strategic initiatives, and we’re going to be putting a lot of energy behind that,” said, Mullen.

Mullen also discussed how the armed services are also still behind when it comes to the integration of AI technologies in healthcare functions.

“We are not in the generative AI area yet,” Mullen said, adding, “we’re still sort of [in] the machine learning look at using algorithms in our work.”

While the DHA and the DoD continue to play catch-up, Mullen said the department has made better  strides in other areas including the Pentagon’s electronic health record (EHR) program.

“This summer we will complete the worldwide deployment of our EHR system. It has been exciting for us. It is going to bring standardization that we’ve been long doing,” said Mullen. “We started on the West Coast and rolled that East. The implementation went here in the National Capital Region just about a month and a half ago, and that went off really well.”

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.