Battlefield medics and army docs are professional colleagues who work on the same patients, but usually in a different space and time. Medics are often faced with wounded soldiers that need immediate attention that only a trained surgeon can help with. Moreover, once the surgeon finally gets his hands on the patient, knowing the background of the injury and the subsequent medical details can dramatically speed up initialization of proper care. Additionally, triaging multiple injuries in the field by deciding who gets the medevac first can be improved if doctors at the field hospital have a good sense of what the status of the wounded is.
The U.S. Army is working on a system that can manage patient data from injury site to recovery, including providing live audio/video communication for medics in the field. The system relies on a number of devices and 4G cellular networking to send vitals to and communicate with the doctor while everything is being recorded for further review. Surely a similar system can be translated for use for civilian care and integrated into ambulances and clinics.
From the U.S. Army:
Medics utilized man-portable physiological monitoring devices with streaming video, voice and photo capability, and sent electronic Tactical Casualty Care Cards, or TC3, over a tactical network to the surgical facility so surgeons could see injuries and what treatment had been performed prior to the patient’s arrival.
The combination of secure tactical communications and knowledge management may also help brigade surgeons prioritize treatment and evacuation assets so the most critically injured can be treated first.
“The Army uses medevac, but the bad news is that it costs about $20,000 per patient flight,” said Dave Williams, Project Manager for Theater Tele-Health Initiatives, TATRC. “And if you have six assets and 12 patients, who should they get first? If we can determine which patients can be held and which can be treated and stabilized on site, it might be a less expensive way to save a patient’s life.”
This is the third year that PD C4ISR & Network Modernization has examined network capabilities that could support the medic/first responder’s mission.
During 2011, PD C4ISR & Network Modernization combined fielded tactical radios such as the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System with the Soldier Radio Waveform to see if it was possible and feasible to provide enhanced bandwidth and over-the-horizon communications for hand-held medical data. This year, a 4G cellular mesh network was implemented, using SRW to bridge back to the tactical network.
“We’re examining how best to combine the future and current so we can enable the medical community to perform their mission more efficiently,” said Jason Sypniewski, chief for PD C4ISR & Network Modernization’s Integrated Event Design & Analysis branch. “We’re looking at the Soldier Radio Waveform because it’s a self-healing waveform that allows non-line-of-sight communication; that’s the vision for where the Army wants to go. We’ve looked at EPLRS because it’s an existing asset on which the medical community might could recapitalize.”
U.S. Army: Army explores tactical 4G telemedicine