86th MDSS Airmen prescribe new network

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford
  • 86th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs

Behind the scenes of the 86th Medical Group, within the Medical Support Squadron, is a small flight doing big things. The Medical Information Services Flight is working tirelessly to not only keep the Medical Group running, but migrate systems to help safeguard us all.

The flight is one of diversity, consisting of one officer, a few enlisted, general schedule, contractor and local national employees. Together they service the 86th MDG information technology systems, answering the same types of trouble tickets the rest of the base submits to the 86th Communications Squadron.

“Our flight’s job is to maintain access to the computers, access to the internet, phone services, and just keep the med group up and running,” said Tech. Sgt. Kaci Stephens, 86th MDSS medical information services flight client support noncommissioned officer in charge.

Enlisted personnel attend technical school and leave with the Air Force specialty code Health Services Management. The formal education touches on a multitude of skills to prepare them for the many possibilities they may encounter, such as working the front desk, resource management, patient administration and much more. It isn’t until they arrive at their duty station and are assigned to a flight that they get the focused, hands-on training required to fulfill their duties.

When assigned to the medical information services flight, obtaining the CompTIA Security+ certification is a priority.

“When you get assigned to a systems flight, we learn what comm does, but in a very, very short time,” Stephens said. “We maintain the same kind of operations for the most part, just very specific to medical users.”

For several weeks, this flight has been migrating the medical group’s systems from the Air Force Network, to a network called Medical Community of Interest (Med-COI).

“The Medical Community of Interest is the Military Health System, MHS, new computing network,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Fritzsche, 86th MDSS medical information services flight commander. “Medics from Army, Navy, and Air Force are all leaving their services-provided unclassified network and joining the Med-COI.”

Getting all services on the same network may not be an easy task, but it can come with big rewards. Being on a common network allows all to work on the MHS’s newest electronic health record called MHS Genesis.

“Genesis replaces some pretty old, or legacy systems,” Fritzsche said. “Some of them were developed in the ‘80s and ‘90s, with really kind of a DOS hot key interface to them. So they're kind of an adventure to use.”

MHS Genesis is not only for the active duty components; Veteran’s Affairs are also set to use the system.

“Imagine your health record following you when you separate, retire or otherwise leave the service,” Fritzsche said. “That's what MHS Genesis is going to bring, and in order to get there we have to be on a common computing environment, so that's where Med-COI comes in. It's got a totally different background, (as) it's made for medics. It houses all of our medical applications, and it will house MHS Genesis for us when we get it here at Ramstein.”

Though oftentimes those who work behind the scenes rarely get the “thanks” they deserve, this team's hard work has not gone unseen.

Their leadership acknowledged all the hard work going into preparation for the network migration, on top of keeping the medical group running daily, and submitted the team for recognition.

“When you win an Air Force level award, especially one for a team this size, and you're talking (Air Force Medical Service), we're the best systems team in the Air Force,” Stephens said. “It gives a lot of people hope that like, ‘hey, my hard work is actually being recognized and I'm actually contributing to something, and someone's actually seeing that I'm contributing to something.’ That feedback saying what you're doing matters continues to motivate you to continue to do better, and to continue to work hard.”

Congratulations to the 86th MDSS medical information services flight for being named the 2020 United States Air Force Medical Service’s Medical Information Services Team of the Year.