Centers of Excellence align under Defense Health Agency

Maj. Jonathan Forbes, a neurosurgeon, reviews magnetic resonance imaging of a patient.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Miguel Lara III/Released)

The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) began realignment under the Defense Health Agency Oct. 1 as part of the ongoing Military Health System transformation. The change is one example of the progress DHA is making to meet the current health care needs of the military community.

“This is a positive thing,” said Dr. Richard Stoltz, acting DCoE director. “We are consolidating our efforts and nesting our expertise to manage programs, develop resources, and execute research more effectively. This effort is a great benefit to our warfighters.”

This realignment supports the DHA quadruple aim – the agency’s overall effort to provide better health, better care, lower costs, and improved military readiness.

Obvious Changes

DCoE has provided the MHS with the latest psychological health and traumatic brain injury clinical and educational information since 2007. DCoE consists of a headquarters, two congressionally designated centers of excellence: Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) and Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC), plus the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2).

Changes that stakeholders and public audiences can expect include:

  • The sunset of the DCoE brand. DHA will retire the DCoE brand, but the staff will continue its work on valued programs and initiatives across the agency. DCoE website and social media content will transition to and MHS social media.
  • A center name change. Deployment Health Clinical Center has been renamed Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) and will undergo a branding change.
  • The sunset of the T2 brand. DHA will retire the T2 brand, but staff will continue their unique mission and will merge with other agency staff elements.

—The mobile health program, telehealth program and training program will comprise the new Connected Health Branch under the DHA Clinical Support Division, Operations Directorate.

—Technology efforts will transition to the Web and Mobile Technology Program Management Office in the DHA Solution Delivery Division, Health Information Technology Directorate.

—PHCoE will take responsibility of the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report program office.

“The work we do to improve beneficiaries’ access to care and improve health outcomes will not falter,” said Tim Hoyt, T2 director. “We aren’t going away – we are moving forward.”

Chris Priest, deputy director of the DHA J-3 (Operations Directorate), said this realignment isn't about the disestablishment of DCoE or T2. The mission of these two organizations will continue. In fact, according to Priest, the work these organizations do will optimize operations at the agency by uniting research assets and nesting DHA centers of excellence in one location.

Customers will find the valuable content from and on other agency websites. Additionally, social media audiences may see changes to some of the social media channels they follow, but they can expect the same informative content.

Behind the Scenes Changes

Some operational and logistical changes won’t be as apparent to beneficiaries and the public, including:

  • PHCoE and DVBIC will join the DHA J-9 (Research and Development Directorate).
  • PHCoE will oversee the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report, inTransition program, and the 24/7 Outreach Center.

Moving the two centers under the research directorate will help the agency meet a strategic goal to improve readiness, health, and experience of care. Integrating technology experts across the agency supports the goal to deploy solutions to the 21st century battlespace.

“Our innovative work will provide the foundation for important functions, such as program evaluation, education and training, and knowledge translation,” said Stoltz. “Stronger opportunities for cross-collaboration throughout the DHA will help improve and sustain operational readiness.”

Impact to Warfighters

"We exist to support the warfighter – and we accomplish that through a system that ensures our men and women in uniform are a ready medical force and a medically ready force,” said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, DHA director. “We sustain their health through a quality medical team of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals who are better trained and prepared than any in the world.”

According to recent feedback from military leaders, they understand that standardization helps improve efficiencies. A more efficient medical force allows health care providers to focus on patient satisfaction and quality of care.

“The DHA is here to enable and better support the services and our 9.4 million beneficiaries,” said Bono. “We are cultivating a culture of service, quality, and transparency – and we are making progress!”