CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - Personnel from Regional Health Command Europe's virtual health team, and representatives from the Army and Navy's virtual health program, spent three days here meeting with deployed service members discussing way to improve the program's capabilities in the Horn of Africa region.
"With virtual health, we're bringing the medical center to the warfighter," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Cornfeld, the virtual health medical director at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. "What we're beginning to do here in Djibouti is to enable the providers to use their time and resources to support service members in more austere locations who ultimately look to this location for their support."
The continued implementation of virtual health at the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Medical Facility, Camp Lemonnier will decrease service members' time spent away from their units and mission, and expedite the return to duty of those who have to be medically evacuated to LRMC.
In 2018, almost 14,000 mission days were saved for Africa, Europe, and Middle East combatant commanders through the use of virtual health versus in-person travel.
"The benefits of these capabilities really allow for better conversations to happen, perhaps prior to a patient being evacuated, and better management of patient care," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Todd Hall, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Virtual Health Europe.
At the end of August, the EMF conducted its first virtual health visit back to specialists at LRMC. Part of the team's visit was to follow up on that initial interaction and discuss with EMF leadership what the next year will bring.
"A decade ago we might have asked the service member to come into the Medical Treatment Facility and connect them to another MTF, but now what we're trying to do is say they should be able to receive care at anytime and anywhere," said U.S. Navy Capt. Valerie Riege, the chief innovation and integration officer for the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
In addition to a visit with U.S. Navy Capt. Kenneth Crowe, Camp Lemonnier's current commanding officer and the medical team at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city, the team paid a visit to the small medical facility at Chabelley Airfield, which is a few miles from Camp Lemonnier.
Service members at Chabelley were shown the Telehealth in a Bag kit, which includes a TotalExam 3 camera and dental wand. The system allows providers at the operational site to share live diagnostic information using various peripheral devices. After receiving instructions on how to use the equipment and establish a connection to doctors at LRMC, the medics had an opportunity to practice examining each other.
"Prior to today, I hadn't seen any equipment like this," said U.S. Army Sgt. Harvey Drayton. "With the demonstration, you can see how beneficial and useful it is."
RHCE virtual health provides digital health care delivery between 165-plus providers across 38 specialties to patients in garrison, operational, and remote settings on three continents serving Army, Air Force, Navy, NATO, Defense Logistics Agency, and Department of State service and family members.
For more information on virtual health, please talk with your health care provider.