FALLS CHURCH, Va. — As the Defense Health Agency assumes authority, direction and control of military treatment facilities, the Air Force Medical Service will remain steadfast on its Trusted Care journey towards higher reliability and Zero Harm.
The 43rd Medical Squadron at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the 81st Medical Group at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi; the 628th MDG at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; and the 4th MDG at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina were the first four facilities to transition on Oct. 1, 2018. The process is set to be completed by Sept. 30, 2021, when all military medical treatment facilities will be transitioned under the DHA.
“Through all the changes the AFMS will go through, we will continue being a high-reliability organization, and medical Airmen will still deliver the Trusted Care our warfighters and patients expect,” said Lt. Col. Michael Fea, special assistant to the Air Force Surgeon General for Trusted Care.
Trusted Care will even continue for the initial four transitioning MTFs. Should a transitioned MTF need resources to execute Trusted Care, they can place a request with the temporary transitional Intermediate Management Organization and, if needed, the AFMS will validate the request for appropriate DHA resourcing.
Trusted Care encompasses the high-reliability efforts that drive the AFMS to be a continuous learning and improving organization. The principles, safety behaviors, habits and culture of Trusted Care that produces a single-minded focus on high-quality patient-centered care will endure throughout the transition.
“Trusted Care is a culture, not a program,” said Fea. “It is how we do business today and how we will continue to do business in the future.”
“No one wants to see Trusted Care go because we have made so many great strides,” said Col. Tess Clark, chief of Trusted Care Execution at AFMOA. “We have changed the culture, and our Airmen are eager to continue on that Trusted Care journey.”
This commitment to high reliability is something that is valued and shared across all the Services.
“We are not the only ones focused on high reliability,” said Col. Gretchen England, chief of Air Force Patient Safety at Air Force Medical Operations Agency. “The entire Military Health System is on a journey towards a zero harm culture. So, as we go through this transition, Trusted Care will remain a part of our culture regardless of what we name it. ”
In 2014, the MHS adopted the Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety, or TeamSTEPPS, an evidence-based training system designed to improve health care quality and safety. The AFMS built on that foundation to develop its Trusted Care culture.
“Trusted Care shares the same basic concepts as TeamSTEPPS to deliver safe, quality care,” said England. “We did not abandon TeamSTEPPS as we introduced Trusted Care, and we do not plan on abandoning Trusted Care now. Trusted Care is more than just a tool. It is a culture that drives our journey towards zero harm.”
he AFMS is working in conjunction with partners at the DHA and the other Services to expand its ability to deliver safe, high-reliable care and continue this culture throughout the transition. According to Fea, the Trusted Care culture and the way the AFMS implements high-reliability organizational initiatives has been recognized by the DHA and the other Services, but there may be some small changes as the Services work together.
“This transition has many layers to it, and as the MTFs move to the DHA, the Major Command surgeon generals won’t have high-reliability organizational oversight responsibility,” said Fea. “As DHA and the Services work to share and execute high-reliability organizational initiatives, it could mean that some of the initiatives may change. However, the temporary transitional Intermediate Management Organization will serve as a point of contact for the four MTFs that are part of the initial phase of the transition. At the end of the day though, we will continue to advance the Trusted Care culture we have built.”
During this time of change, Fea stresses that medical Airmen must remain focused on providing high quality care, and that any decisions being made to shape policy, strategy or action plans will always be about the patient, the frontline operations, and those who perform the work.
“With so much change going on, it might be easy for frontline Airmen to speculate on what impact this transition will have,” said Fae. “We want them to know that we aren’t taking our eye off the ball and losing focus. The mission hasn’t changed. Our Airmen will continue to deliver high-quality health care in an environment built upon patient centeredness.”