JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The Advanced Virtual Support for Operational Forces system, or ADVISOR, coordinated through the Army Virtual Medical Center at Brooke Army Medical Center, provides 24/7/365 on-demand telephone consultations with on-call specialty providers during emergencies.
"ADVISOR is a toll-free phone number that can be called from anywhere in the world," said Michael Kile, Army Virtual MEDCEN operational readiness program manager. "The system is designed to support operational forces in caring for emergent or urgent casualties. It's a contingency piece."
Kile explained ADVISOR is not meant to be used as a primary means of medical support. "It's a lifeline when other things are not available. You pick up the phone and you know someone is going to answer."
"It's simplicity is what makes it beautiful," said Army Lt. Col. Sean Hipp, Army Virtual MEDCEN director. "The most complex thing is coordinating provider schedules."
Currently there are 42 Army, Air Force, Navy and civilian specialty providers from across the country in the program. Specialties include critical care, emergency department, burn care, orthopedics, general/trauma surgery, pediatrics, toxicology and infectious disease. Two providers from each area of expertise are on-call at any given time.
"Users select an option in a call tree to be connected to the correct specialty," Kile said. "If for some reason one of those providers are not able to answer the call, the call will go to an emergency department. At that point, an emergency medicine physician will try to assist, and if they cannot, they have the ability to page other on-call specialists within their location."
Over the past year, ADVISOR has assisted with 45 real-world calls and implemented more than 190 training calls during events such as the Army Best Medic Competition and Fleet Week in San Diego, California.
"Using ADVISOR during training scenarios is an opportunity to provide training for providers as well," Kile said. "It's a very complex situation when you have a patient you can't see and you have someone on the other end of the line who is not necessarily medically trained."
These training scenarios benefit the medics as well. "Anytime you have a medic talking to a doctor about taking care of a patient they are learning something. They are building their skillset," Kile said.
Training scenarios help providers and operational personnel learn to work with what resources they have available to create a plan to help care for the sick or injured casualty until they can be evacuated to a higher echelon of care.
"The scenarios are based on real world events," Kile explained. "Sometimes it's not a combat injury, it may be a disease where someone becomes gravely ill, but because of the distance and the resources required, they may have to care for the patient at their location for a time."
Right now it's a phone call, but they hope to add a video component in the future.
"It would start with a conversation over the phone," Kile said. "If the doctor needs to see what's happening, the person on the other end of the line could hit a button on their phone and it could turn into a video chat in a secure environment."
"The ADVISOR system is a truly tri-service capability that has the potential of shaping future operational healthcare delivery models across the Department of Defense," Hipp said.
"The cool part is knowing it's there if needed, even if you don't have to use it," Kile added.
Anyone who would like more information about the ADVISOR program can call 210-539-4042 or email Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.