JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Brooke Army Medical Center launched a new Mobile Medic project at the 232nd Medical Battalion on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in mid-September. The project is an initial step for BAMC as the Army’s first virtual medical center.
A team of mobile medics stationed at the battalion, use a combination of virtual and hands-on health care to triage the Soldiers who report to morning sick call.
“This program not only integrates technology, it allows medics to get hands-on training,” said Sgt. Andrea Bloom, one of the mobile medics. “We are at the front line bringing medicine to our patients saving them time, effort and energy and allowing them to return to their training.
“Because the 232nd Medical Battalion is the hub for 68W (combat medic) training, it also gives us an opportunity to show the trainees what we do as a profession,” Bloom added.
“Before this program was initiated, the Soldiers who came in for sick call would go to the McWethy Troop Medical Clinic,” said Army Maj. Dan Yourk, deputy director of clinical operations for the BAMC Virtual Medical Center. “That could take anywhere from a couple of hours to six or seven hours, depending on how many Soldiers show up at the clinic.
“Our intent with this program is to have mobile medics at the 232nd screening and triaging the Soldiers to determine if they can do self-care, are appropriate for telehealth or if they need to go to the clinic to be seen by a provider,” he added.
The mobile medics are able to take vital signs and communicate with a health care provider via video conferencing to determine the best course of action for treatment.
“We want to train medics as they are going to fight in an operational setting, using the same equipment and capabilities they would see when they deploy with operational forces,” Yourk said. “This is the same equipment, the same capability and the same kind of workflow they would use at a far forward location where they don’t have a provider there with them. They can actually connect back to a facility where there is a provider to support them.”
The Mobile Medic program is nested within the BAMC Virtual MEDCEN, but it also provides 68W combat medics an opportunity to gain the core competencies they are required to maintain through the 68W Utilization Program.
The project will be evaluated after four to six weeks to determine how expand this capability in a way that is beneficial for both the medics and the Soldiers being treated.
“We will look at how beneficial it is then possibly expand the program to Camp Bullis,” Yourk said.
Initial feedback has been positive.
Spc. Joao Dos Santos Faustino experienced the Mobile Medic program first-hand as a patient.
“I think it’s pretty innovative in the way technology has influenced our lives it’s pretty interesting to see it being used in this context for medicine,” said Dos Santos Faustino.
“I think it streamlines the process of going to sick call by having them come to us. It benefits me because the turnaround time is much quicker and I don’t miss class time.”
Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Sean Hipp, the BAMC Virtual MEDCEN director, said the program gives the 68W trainees an opportunity to see how mobile medics function and he hopes these capabilities will excite them.
“They will see that in the future they could be using these devices and screening and working hand in hand with providers,” Hipp said.
“As a Virtual MEDCEN, BAMC will be better able to implement cutting-edge virtual technology – whether email, web-based programs, cameras or cellphone – to offer other providers consultations and better serve service members, retirees and their families both stateside and overseas,” Hipp said.