New technology could streamline medical treatment on battlefield
WASHINGTON -- Today's Army medics can be slowed down during medical evacuation missions by the need to document patient data and medication logs. In the future, however, medics may be free from such tasks that can deter their focus on treating the wounded.
The Army Medical Materiel Agency, or AMMA, at Fort Detrick, Maryland, has been working with Nett Warrior Soldier and industry partners to develop new transport telemedicine systems that will automatically do the work for them. The Medical Ultra Wideband Broadcast, or MEDHUB, is a hands free system that uses bluetooth technology to capture data, including patient information, inventory and arrival times. The bluetooth system uses a broad range of frequencies at very low amplitude.
Members of AMMA performed a demonstration of the developmental equipment at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, Oct. 10. The system includes a tourniquet with built-in sensors, a heart rate monitor that records a patient's heart rate, blood pressure cups and vital sign monitors.
Patient data will be captured using a tablet that records and stores information. The new system could see the field as soon as 2020.
"All those things identify a new patient," said Lt. Col. Christian Cook, MEDEVAC Mission Equipment Product manager. He explained that with MEDHUB, a medic won't need to record the patient's record on paper.
"The best thing about this is it doesn't stop there, it flows off of the platform wirelessly to a medical treatment facility -- where we're taking the patient to, therefore they can prepare for the arrival of one or more patients," Cook said.
Cook has 18 years experience as a MEDEVAC pilot and flew three combat tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He said as U.S. forces shift their focus to potentially new threats, data collection issues in the field may continue.
"We think these problems will exist in the multi-domain battlefield," Cook said. "We've got to be able to return our EVAC assets to the fight quicker and that means … quicker exchange of information."
Often a flight paramedic or MEDEVAC pilot must now call the hospital and verbally give a patient's status and the number of patients being transported. The transport telemedicine system using the DOD tactical satellite network will record and transmit patient data to the hospital.
When treating patients on the battlefield, medics often must write down patient information on cards or memorize the data. They must also guess a patient's weight to determine an appropriate amount of medication. A proposed electronic scale will not only calculate a patient's accurate weight, but calculate the amount of medication needed based on the patient's weight.
Since the Vietnam era, medics have had to manually perform these tasks that often will slow down treatment on the battlefield, said Army Transport Telemedicine product manager Jay Wang.
The new products will help medics focus on administering patient care. Medical data on patients will also be forwarded to hospitals up to 30 minutes prior to a patient's arrival, enabling hospital personnel the ability to perform more effective patient care.
"There is no data being sent to the hospital ahead of any medevac arrival, especially in the battlefield where we don't have a lot of communication," Wang said. "So what we've done here is a system that does two things: provides the hospital with that vital critical information of how many patients, what's their basic vital signs, what's their ETA and how many are littered so that they be carried in so that the hospital can assign resources, number of beds…"
Medics must also keep a log whenever they remove medicine from inventory, remove medication from the building and when they administer medication to a patient. The proposed system will automatically document the medication using sensors and the wireless technology.
"What we're trying to do is create a scale of accountability," Wang said.
Wang said that the products are still in development stage and his team is still finalizing concepts, but he is excited to turn the concepts into a final product.
Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!
Follow us on social media!