Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Helping Service Members

The web-based TRICARE Assistance Program (TRIAP) uses web-based technologies to bring short-term professional counseling assistance closer to the people who often need it the most to include service members and veterans recently back from overseas.

From the security of their homes, or anywhere else, a service member with a computer, webcam and associated software can speak face-to-face with a licensed counselor over the internet at any time 24/7. Counselors give the returning service members an opportunity to discuss matters such as relationship issues, sleep disturbances, or readjustment difficulties from the comfort and security of their own homes. The counselor then determines if more specialized care is needed, and if so, the service member will be referred to a more comprehensive level of care. A referral or prior authorization is not needed to use the system.

Also, service members are helped after returning return from Iraq and Afghanistan if they have suffered life threatening injuries causing intense pain requiring the constant use of prescription medications. The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Pharmacoeconomic Research and the Milwaukee’s Columbia College of Nursing are studying a robotic device capable of dispensing the proper dose of oral prescription medications to soldiers suffering from TBI, PTSD, and other stressful conditions.

The study is looking at the use of an electronic medication management assistant or the EMMA delivery unit designed to remotely deliver, manage, and monitor a patient’s drug therapy. This delivery unit can help service members adhere to their medications in the outpatient setting under the guidance of a physician, nurse case manager, and pharmacist. EMMA was directed in development by Dr. Mary Anne Papp of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and the system is manufactured by INRange Systems, Inc.

The study of the robotic device with $1.35 million in funding will be administered by TATRC as part of the Army Medical Research & Material Command located at Fort Detrick. The study will initially take place at the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital in California and at the James A. Haley Veterans Affairs Hospital and Polytrauma Facility in Tampa Florida. If successful, the program many expand to include additional DOD sites.