Gregg Stevens, U.S. Army Medical Department Civilian Corps Chief, presented the annual Wolf Pack Award to the Regional Health Command Europe Virtual Health team Thursday December, 9 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Stevens, who is also the Deputy to the Commanding General, Army Medical Department Center and School, sponsors the award which is intended to recognize and celebrate successes of teams throughout Army Medicine, and recognizes teamwork that drives excellence in outcomes supporting the Army Medicine mission. Eligible teams must consist of a mix of civilian and military team members, and may include contractors.

The RHCE Virtual Health Team was recognized as the MEDCOM model for a multispecialty, real-time regional virtual health program.

Stevens said the team is leading the way in Virtual Health throughout Army Medicine.

"What they are doing is expandable to Army Medicine across the world, not just here in Germany" Stevens said. "And some of the lessons they have learned here are already being implanted in other locations in the Army Medicine Command."

Virtual health is the use of electronic information, imaging, and communication technologies to provide and support health care when distance separates the patient and the provider.

"Virtual health visits are similar to video conferencing applications but with the added benefit of a nurse in the room to help facilitate a robust appointment between the patient and the specialist," explained Col. Kirk Waibel, RHCE Virtual Health medical director.

The team is credited with "connecting the medical neighborhood of over 70 specialists located at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to 15 Army Health Clinics and their 100,000 beneficiaries," according to their award citation.

Additionally, during 2015 the team's efforts resulted in over 2,600 synchronous telehealth visits, over 2,000 saved work days, 825,000 kilometers not driven, and an estimated travel-cost savings of $1.34 million dollars.

"They had a real impact on the medical care here and it generated a number of savings not only in terms of money spent in the medical care itself but in the time and effort it took the patients to get their care, the number of miles that were driven," Stevens said.

Ron Keen, RHCE Virtual Health Chief, said his team is always working to break down barriers; saying they are always working to find ways for patients to connect with their health care and their providers.

"Our team is just a very progressive and fantastic group of brilliant people," he said. "We look at barriers as opportunities and they never say no -- it's 'what can we do to make virtual health work for you?' This team is just an exceptional group of people."

Stevens, whose office oversees the Wolf Pack Award, said it is important to recognize these diverse teams who are working together -- military, civilian, local nationals -- to accomplish their mission and provide the best care possible for the patients.

He added that his office receives about 8-10 applications per quarter for Wolf Pack award. From there, a quarterly award is presented and then each of the quarterly winners is eligible for the annual award. The RHCE Virtual Health team won the Quarterly Award last March.

"My personal belief is that the greatest thing any citizen can do for their country is defend it," Stevens said. "And for Army Medicine, that includes both military and [civilians], so it is really neat to have that kind of unity and to work together. [These teams] have really accomplished a lot of great things and this is just one example of all of the great things that are going on across Army Medicine."

For more information on Virtual Health visit www.rhce.amedd.army.mil.