NCO taps into medical database to process Soldier claims faster
January 5, 2010
- Web access to deployed medical data slices weeks off line-of-duty investigations
- Warrior Transition Unit representative clears backlog of case files within days of receiving access to database
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Jan. 5, 2009) -- A backlog of 20 open case files reside on Master Sgt. Bruce Mann's desk long enough that colleagues consider them part of the office decor. Each file contains scribbled notes from follow-up phone calls and stapled e-mail correspondence spanning weeks, sometimes months at a time.
Conducting line-of-duty investigations for the Southern Regional Medical Command - Community Based Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, means Mann's attention to detail and persistence leads to a complete picture for some Soldier applying for benefits or submitting a medical claim due to service-related injuries.
It was a puzzle that the senior clinical noncommissioned officer knew there had to be an easier way to assemble.
Medical review boards evaluate LOD investigations to determine the level of benefits wounded warriors receive. WTU personnel track down the key data elements to validate the claims. Those key data elements include medical records.
"Occasionally, wounded warriors enter CBWTU offices with little or no medical documentation from theater," Mann said. "My investigations would typically come to a standstill when patient data from theater treatment facilities was not digitally available, but instead collected on paper and stored locally. I've spent countless hours trying to track down those records."
Mann's personal best for tracking down a full medical record was one week. Unfortunately, that remained far from the norm.
"I had one file open for a couple of months," Mann said. "The facility couldn't locate the file. I knew there had to be a better way to access deployed records."
In July, Mann contacted the Army's Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care, or MC4 program,-tasked with equipping, training and supporting units with electronic medical recording systems. MC4 pointed him to the Theater Medical Data Store, a database to which MC4 systems feed medical data. Today, he's completing puzzles in record fashion.
"I needed to track down information to back up servicemembers' claims, such as a Soldier evacuated to a combat support hospital for injuries from an IED blast," Mann said. "Now I get the majority of the data I need for my LODs from TMDS. I used to call theater treatment facilities and send countless e-mails to complete my investigations. Since July, I've called twice."
As for the stack of outstanding open case files, Mann said, "Within a few days after getting access to TMDS, I found all of the information I needed and every report was closed out."
For more information about TMDS and how MC4 is used to help deployable servicemembers, visit the MC4 Web site at <a href="http://www.mc4.army.mil">www.mc4.army.mil</a>.