By Ms. Ashley Patoka (Regional Health Command Europe)March 21, 2018
The Regional Health Command Europe Virtual Health team recently connected Soldiers participating in exercise Juniper Cobra 2018 in Israel with health care professionals at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center through the use of Telehealth in a Bag.
THAIB uses a secure web-based platform that provides the deployed medic or doctor with reach-back capability to the garrison or medical center provider utilizing a live, real-time video link. The system allows providers at the operational site to share live diagnostic information with various peripheral devices including a high definition camera and stethoscope.
"THIAB is a virtual health system that enhances Soldier health care through an ability to rapidly extend the reach of the medical team," according to Sgt. 1st Class Todd Hall, RHCE Virtual Health noncommissioned officer in charge. "The tool allows the health care team in the operational setting to seamlessly connect with specialists and other resources in garrison."
Using this platform, Soldiers with the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command connected with specialist in occupational therapy, physical therapy and behavioral health at LRMC in three synchronous visits.
According to Steven Cain, RHCE Virtual Health deputy and surgical physician assistant, three years ago this site in Israel was one of the first sites to demonstrate the THIAB concept. "That successful demonstration in 2016 prompted the [U.S. Army Europe Office of the Command Surgeon] to purchase eight THIAB systems to use for the Regionally Aligned Forces in Eastern Europe."
And while this system is new for the 10th AAMDC's site in Israel, they have utilized a THIAB system at a remote site in Turkey for the last year.
The 10th AAMDC isn't the only unit performing operational virtual health visits, "to date, at 12 different sites in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa there have been nearly three hundreds synchronous soldier care visits with garrison and LRMC specialists in the past nine months," Cain said.
The first THIAB site became operational with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment at Orsysz, Poland at the end of May, 2017.
"Although work has been underway for about two years, starting with a pilot in Cameroon Africa, we are less than one year into this program at multiple sites," Cain added. "By the one year anniversary, I project we will have reached the 500 synchronous operational patient encounter milestone."
Additionally, the recent 10th AAMDC THIAB encounters were unique as the command's surgeon, Maj. Jennifer Knox, was able to participate to assess the capability first hand.
During one of the encounters, a medic presented a patient to a specialist at LRMC while at the same time, Knox was able to be in the Virtual Exam Room "evaluating the capability and assessing its efficacy," according to Cain.
Cain said it is important for as many medical personnel as possible to see this capability in action.
"One of our goals is to raise awareness and fluency with regard to how operational virtual health systems and technology can address capability gaps," he said.
To learn more about the RHCE Virtual Health program, visit http://rhce.amedd.army.mil/.