Project expected to speed access to health data

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Print this page by M.J. McAteer

While a slowdown in federal spending looms for many federal contractors, government business for Fairfax-based software company Accelera is throttling up.

Thanks to a $20 million, four-year contract Accelera landed with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), co-founder and President Joe Brown expects to expand his 100-member staff by 30 to 40 percent in the next six months. Brown also is opening a branch office in Charleston, S.C., to be near SPAWAR’s Atlantic headquarters.

SPAWAR designs, develops and implements communications and information technologies for the Navy and other Department of Defense agencies. It turned to Accelera for assistance in the deployment of what it calls an Application Virtualization Hosting Environment (AVHE). AVHE will use virtual desktop technology to facilitate access to electronically stored medical documents for active-duty and retired military personnel. Jack O’Neill, a press officer with SPAWAR, says that the Navy has worked with Accelera on past projects and that its proposal offered “the best value to the government.”

Fast and easy access to patient records will represent a significant advance in patient care, Cal Stephens, SPAWAR’s chief engineer for health systems, told Government Computer News recently. Complicated logins and slow boot-up times have frustrated medical personnel who usually have to use multiple terminals during their shifts. 

“You’d be looking at five to 10 minutes for a doctor to get AHLTA up and running in an examination room to put data in or pull data out,” Stephens said. AHLTA, the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, is the military’s electronic health records system.

With a switch to virtual computing, medical personnel will need to log in only once a shift. Thereafter, because information will be stored in what Brown calls “a private cloud,” access to any machine in the network will require just the swipe of a smart card. Those machines could include laptops, tablets and wireless computer-enabled mobile carts that have become central to medical care. Sessions will time out automatically to protect data security.

The AVHE project is expected to increase efficiency and to reduce maintenance and upgrade costs. The project is just getting off the ground, and Brown anticipates that it will be fully functional in two years. 

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