Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Army's Health Technology

The Army lists soldier medical readiness as its number one priority and wants to do a better job of screening to keep today’s service members healthy. Currently, almost half of all non-deployable soldiers have suffered preventable musculoskeletal injuries. It has been found in studies, that those at risk for injuries can be identified by using an up-to-date screening process referred to as MP3.

The MP3 research team with faculty and students from the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy and researchers from the University of Evansville, and Duke University are conducting a study through the Army’s Medical Department of Advanced Medical Technology Initiative (AAMTI) with TATRC providing $239, 547 in funds.

The Army by using hand held devices (Motorala MC75) and netbooks are able to speed up the assessments and screen 35-40 soldiers in less than 90 minutes. The soldier’s data is translated into a score and then sent to a computer that uses an algorithm to determine whether the soldier is at risk for musculoskeletal injuries and to what degree. If a soldier is found to be at risk for injury, prescribed corrective steps are taken under the supervision of an Army physical therapist to help decrease risk factors. With the data, the medical team is able to track the soldier’s performance throughout their career.

As for the development of other devices, Lt. Col Eric Drynan, Division Chief the Medical Information Systems Directorate at the AMEDD Center and School, reports that the Army is examining the future of several hand-held devices. Lt. Col Drynan is working with the IT system and radio platform experts to develop the operational architecture to enable a commercial hand-held device to be used in the field which would greatly help medics and behavioral health providers.

According to Drynan, the Army’s work on the next generation device seems to be moving in the direction of Android-based phones perhaps similar to the Android EVO that’s already available in the commercial market. The Army is setting up its own 3G network with mobile antennas which are now being tested.

Another initiative being studied is the Electronic Casualty Report (ECR). If a soldier in a convoy is hit by an IED, another soldier can provide buddy aid and then document the information in the ECR, which is part of the mission command system in every Army vehicle. The ECR is an electronic version of the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Card which is used to document care provided by first responders.

To meet the needs of telemedicine, a telehealth Integrated Process Action Team (iPAT) is looking at telehealth requirements and capabilities in the AMEDD from the operational tactical level to the generating force. The iPAT team is going to conduct a capabilities-based assessment to identify gaps in current capabilities document where telemedicine could provide solutions.

A Virtual Behavioral Pilot program initiated in 2009 tried several methods to provide behavioral care. These methods included face-to-face care, high bandwidth Video Tele-Conferencing (VTC), and low bandwidth Defense Connect Online. It was discovered that service members were really helped with VTC encounters.

As a result in December 2011, the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii opened their Pacific Regional Medical Command’s Tele-Behavioral Health Center. So today, Tripler is providing healthcare VTC not only in the Pacific islands but as far away as Alaska, Texas, and Kansas.