New Web system will merge disparate health information

The Defense Department is building a Web system that will collect and store health data to help explain mysterious illnesses such as Gulf War Syndrome.

The Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System will give deployed military commanders and civilian workers access to health information, including data on disease outbreaks, injury trends, and chemical, biological and physical hazards.

The database will improve battlefield decision-making, officials said.

The $10 million DOEHRS program, which is being designed, built and tested by Northrop Grumman Corp., Oracle Corp., Integic Corp. of Chantilly, Va., and Business Object SA of San Jose, Calif., will collect and hold information on potentially harmful exposures that are mostly documented on paper today.

Reducing health threats

'DOEHRS will integrate industrial hygiene and environmental surveillance information for Military Health System occupational health staff and command surgeons, and will provide operational commanders with options for reducing health threats,' a Defense spokesman said.

The system ultimately will capture data for transfer to computerized patient records. Currently, the process of data collection is not standardized throughout the services.

DOEHRS will replace a number of disparate systems and paper records in use across the services.

'The Gulf War illness question was the driver for our whole software development program,' said Jeff McClaflin, who works as an industrial hygienist at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

'DOEHRS is designed to be able to answer questions like that,' he said.

McClaflin is part of a system design group of medical professionals that includes representatives from each of the military services.

When an initial version of the system is deployed next spring, it will be linked to the Composite Health Care System II and the DOD Hazardous Substance Management Systems.

The data will also be added to the Theater Medical Information Program, an integrated suite of medical systems that provide management support for deployed systems. TMIP is the medical component of both the Global Command and Control System and the Global Combat Support System.

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