Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

SP Major Will Lyles 1

Major (Ret.) William Lyles (Photo: Montgomery Cty. Police Reporter)

Major (Ret.) William Lyles

I have always wanted to work in an area that requires athletic skills. From original aspirations of being a baseball player to my eventual calling as a member of the U.S. Army and Green Berets, I have always loved physical activity.

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2010, my unit came under heavy fire in Afghanistan. During the attack, I stepped on an improvised explosive device. As a result of the explosion and infections that followed, I had to receive partial amputations in both legs. I am now a bilateral above-the-knee amputee, restricting my physical activities.

I am incredibly grateful to the Military Health System (MHS) for saving my life. And much of my experiences with the system over the past 11 years have been positive. However, I have also seen firsthand areas that could be improved with a more advanced electronic health record (EHR) system.

I’ve recently transitioned to care under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but as a long-time patient of the MHS, I support efforts to improve the system so that my brothers and sisters in the military and their families receive the best care possible.

That’s why I’m joining as a patient champion of an advisory group the IBM-Epic team assembled as part of its bid for the Department of Defense’s Healthcare Management System Modernization (DHMSM) contract. The goal of the advisory group is to share best practices from already successful EHR system implementations in the private sector.

My role will be to share learnings from my time as a patient in the MHS to help the team keep the patient perspective top of mind throughout the process. I am already participating in pre-planning meetings as the IBM-Epic team ramps up its capabilities. I will continue to participate even as the system goes live if the team is awarded the contract.

One area I’d like to provide guidance on is patient health data. After I was wounded in Afghanistan and arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in Texas, my doctors were initially unable to view my medical history because it was still located at Fort Bragg, where I had previously received care. I had to re-explain my situation to the new doctors.

Another time, when I was completing my medical board, the VA and the Department of Defense’s EHR systems did not communicate well with each other. As a result, the process took longer than I expected, especially when I was trying to appeal certain decisions.

SP Major Will Lyles

Major (Ret.) William Lyles and Spartan

Even on active duty, my medical records were misplaced. When I moved from one duty station to the next, my records were mailed instead of shared electronically, sometimes causing confusion. I even heard stories of others whose entire records were lost.

With DHMSM, MHS can better address these situations, and improve care for our military members who are still serving and will serve in the future. DHMSM would keep the MHS connected with the VA, the Social Security Administration and others.

Through the advisory group, I will be able to use my experiences to share insights on how patients participate in the current system and ways they could benefit from the new system. For example, my experiences reinforced the need for our military men and women to have new tools to help them take more ownership of their care. I’m encouraged by what this new system can do to that

But on a more personal level, the group will give me a platform to support soldiers, just like I did in the Army.

For more information about the IBM/Epic DHMSM team, please visit

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i saw this article via our intranet website – thanks to William Lyles for his encouraged and very engaged attitude to life after his severity of injury , during the afghanistan mission ! i wish all the members of IBM Epic-Team and MSH Team much success ! And Thanks to William for support this engagements with his exiriences during the medication after the injury. i THINK – a graet opportunity for all involved people.
Andi Wild (IBM employee, Germany)

Posted by: Andi Wild
February 24, 2015
10:14 pm

Excellent initiative; hope that IBM wins this contract and people like you can help others like you.

Posted by: Abhilash Warrier
February 24, 2015
4:14 am

It is a REALLY good idea to have a representative of patients involved in this initiative. I have been a WHO Patients for Patient Safety Champion in my home country (Denmark) since 2007, and one of the biggest issues that can put patients at risk is the lack of control of patient records.
There are so many areas where communication slips up, records are lost, temporarily or permanently, partially or completely. And because of this, records are also distrusted by the healthcare professionals. There is SO much room for improvement!
So many errors in diagnosis and treatment could be prevented if patient records could be trusted to be complete and accessible at all times.
This is an issue that touches many more patients than just the military and veterans – it touches every patient in every healthcare system in every country across the world.
Please share your experiences with the rest of us patients and caregivers, so that we in other countries can benefit from them too.

Posted by: Birgit Hartoft
February 23, 2015
12:38 pm

Thank you for sharing, I am not an expert on this matter but I did enjoy reading both the article and the comments.

Posted by: Conrad Leon
February 19, 2015
12:20 pm

Thank you for your continued service to the armed forces. As a mother of two Navy vets and the daughter of a Navy vet, I have seen the problems with medical records not being electronic. There is a lot of procedural nightmares that comes with changing commands. One of them is trying to get the medical records, in hand, hard copy, and getting them safely to the next command. Getting the information digitized will be a step in the right direction!

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February 19, 2015
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Back in October 1983 I was flying home from Lackland AFB to my new unit (105th MAW) in Newburgh NY. Beside me sat a USAF Lt Colonel toting something unusual in a metal briefcase – a Compass ‘laptop computer’ made by Grid Systems. He had been demonstrating it for some officers at Brook ARMY Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston (in San Antonio) and was flying through NYC to elsewhere.

Up until that day the ONLY portable computer I’d seen was an Osborne (suitcase) computer – owned by one of the airmen in my squadron (3271st). It was large, unwieldy and entirely unsuitable for travel while THIS computer, with its ‘clamshell’ looking design was small, flat, light-weight and armored (the titanium briefcase).

But the thing which REALLY interested ME was the statement the Colonel made about military medical records – seeing as I was carrying a pack of paperwork (copies of MY records) in my ‘carry-on’ luggage.

He said the dog-tags we were issued would soon be replaced with ‘chips’ encased in plastic containing electronic data which could be written to and read from so each military member would be able to carry their entire medical records history with them whenever and wherever they traveled. This meant anyone injured in a combat zone could be treated without fear of repercussions due to allergies, blood-type and past medical history and those records could be ‘shared’ between doctors at home and in the field through the same cryptographic precautions I’d been trained in.

His laptop had a ‘port’ where the dog-tag chip fit to read/write data AND he showed me a proto-typed dog-tag. I remember mentioning to him that the card-edge connector, protruding from the plastic ‘tag’ might be a problem due to field conditions and suggested an antenna feature akin to the RF-ID used in today’s EZ-PASS toll collection systems.

I never imagined though, what with the billions spent on DOD projects, it would take THIS long to finally bring this innovation to-fruition. (much like the single crystal, full-duplex fiber-optic transceiver I worked on).

Posted by: Larry
January 30, 2015
4:29 pm

This is a great article by one of our men in uniform. Most of us working in health administraton may be unaware of health services framework for our soldiers overseas. As EHRs are developed and implemented here at home, we must keep in mind that our medical system overseas has enhanced EHR coordination between medical centers, hospitals and clinics.

Posted by: Rajat Dhameja, MBBS, MHA
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