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Care Coordination, the Army Way

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, December 2, 2011

Clearly, the US Army is not under the same type of business equation, but the challenge of care coordination is the same.

Maj. Chris Warner, MD, has been in the Army since graduating high school, so he's not the person to offer advice on ROI, but he can certainly tout the benefits of his work in coordinating mental health with primary care, not only for the patient, but for the Army itself. After four years at West Point and then medical school, he completed a five-year residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. He's had two deployments in Iraq, and recently became deputy commander of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Alaska, where he oversees medical care for more than 39,000 beneficiaries across three Army installations.

But it's his team's work on the battlefield between 2005 and 2009 that really informed his philosophy on care coordination.

"It was an excellent opportunity to prepare for the clinical integration of mental health into primary care," he says, noting that both are key specialties for operational and deployed medicine. "This was exciting work because I was able to work with developing policy and initiatives that could help soldiers overcome the stigma of seeking help."

At Ft. Stewart, he formed a team of psychologists and social workers in preparation for a deployment to Iraq that covered an area the size of West Virginia and included more than 70 small patrol bases.

"Many of our mental health personnel are deployed on a regular basis," he says. "Therefore, IT is very important to help find balance in developing the team. As an administrator, I look to set a pathway to put in evidence-based processes and refine the processes to gather evidence to do the right things."

Here's where what the Army is doing to coordinate care will start to sound a little familiar.

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