PDAs for PDHAs
March 24, 2011
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- Twenty-four hours after opening their expanded Troop Medical Clinic, the 101st Sustainment Brigade medical operations team is preparing servicemembers with Combined Joint Task Force - 101 to re-deploy next month.
The brigade is conducting their Post Deployment Health Assessment. "Division has no providers to cover, so our providers volunteered to help them and process all their Soldiers," said Maj. (Dr.) Eric Stickney, the 101st Sust. Bde. surgeon.
The Lifeliners added a personal data assistant to their arsenal to take care and ease the process of seeing the hundreds of Division servicemembers in a month's time, a personal data assistant.
"We're using PDAs to expedite the process," Stickney said.
Usually, a PDHA is initiated in country and there's a couple different ways to do it.
"They can fill out questions online at Army Knowledge Online or on paper at the clinic," said Master Sgt. David Dennis, noncommissioned officer in charge of brigade medical operations. "When they see the provider, the provider will make recommendations for referral."
Due to slow internet capabilities, Soldiers using AKO or the medical personnel inputting the information manually from questionnaires take a little longer than it would in the states. With the PDAs, the questionnaires are stored on the device, and allow more time for visits with the provider.
"It's all local and we can process a Soldier in 2-3 minutes, instead of waiting 10 minutes for the pages to load," Stickney said.
Senior Airman Richelle Hutto, a medical technician with the Lifeliner TMC, oversees the use of the handheld PDAs and makes sure the flow of servicemembers is as smooth as possible.
"There's one of two ways to do it," said Hutto, who is attached to the brigade from the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Co. "One way is the doctors can review the information on the handheld right there. But because of there are so many people right now, we have them fill out the questionnaire on it and sync it to the computer. Then the doctor sees them, signs off and we give them their meds."
With the incredible amount of servicemembers of CJTF-101, including 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) headquarters and several reserve and National Guard units, the system allows the TMC to see more people in less time. "Today, we saw about 50-75 people within two hours," Hutto said. "They all checked in, filled out their info, and there was no lag time for the doctors to see them."
At the end of the day, after seeing the scores of Soldiers for PDHAs, in addition to usual sick call and immunization tasks, the information is sent into the system. "All of the information is uploaded every night to MEDPROS," Stickney said. MEDPROS, or the Medical Protection System, tracks all immunization, medical readiness, and deployability data for Soldiers, similar to an electronic medical record.
While PDHAs can be completed 30 days prior to leaving or 30 days after returning, getting the Soldiers up to speed here allows more time once they arrive back at Fort Campbell. "By doing it here, we streamline the process so Soldiers can get out and see their families," Stickney said.
PDHAs document and tackle any changes to a Soldier's health during their tour overseas. "It's going to help identify medical issues, whether physical or mental," Dennis said. "If they need to see a specialist at combat stress, then that will be addressed with the provider."
Any additional care that Soldiers may require is taken care of upon redeployment. "When we go home, we go through reverse Soldier Readiness Program, and we will finish the process," Dennis said.