By Mr. Russell Toof (Regional Health Command Europe)September 13, 2019
LANDSTUHL, Germany -- Doctors from 12 specialties taught 26 participants on required virtual health presentation skills at the eighth tri-service, inter-agency Virtual Health Patient Presenter course Sept. 9 - 13 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
The one-week course gave nurses, Army medics, Air Force medical technicians and Navy corpsmen hands-on instruction from specialty physicians and physician assistants, enabling them to act as the providers' "hands and eyes" during a virtual health visit. Participants were instructed on techniques ranging from complex orthopedic evaluation to traumatic brain injury evaluation.
Virtual health uses a secured connection with video cameras and monitors to connect a patient with specialists who are not located near the patient, reducing the need to travel to receive care.
"Digital health care delivery, synchronous virtual health, is the future of medicine and we're getting after that every day here in Europe," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Cornfeld, the medical director of RHCE's virtual health program. "We're bringing the medical center to the warfighter instead of vice versa."
Regional Health Command Europe virtual health provides digital health care delivery from more than 165 providers across 38 specialties to patients across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The program serves Army, Air Force, Navy, NATO, Defense Logistics Agency and Department of State service and family members.
"This course has been awesome," said U.S. Army Pfc. Andrew Diamond, a combat medic assigned to the Sembach, Germany correctional facility. "I've been able to get outside of just the 'Army box' and learn how the Navy or Air Force does their care. I can bring back those skills to Sembach and make our clinic better at providing care to our patients."
Other participants echoed similar feelings about the course as Diamond.
"This course has been completely eye-opening," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Marqualla Sanders, a medical technician assigned to the RAF Lakenheath family health clinic. "I haven't learned these techniques in some of these specialties before."
In 2018, the virtual health program saved almost 14,000 mission days and more than 11-million dollars in areas such as temporary duty cost and lost productivity.
The number of patients treated through virtual health has grown exponentially since the program began in 2012. However, the virtual health team views themselves as a compliment to patients visiting a physical clinic.
"It's important that patients realize there is virtual health in Europe," said Ron Keen, the RHCE virtual health manager. "This program saves time, save money and we have a 98-percent patient satisfaction rate."
For more information on virtual health, please talk with your health care provider.