FORT DETRICK, Md. (Army News Service, Oct. 31, 2007) - This month the Army and Air Force completed the largest training and equipping effort of digital medical recording systems to date.

In six weeks, technical support teams trained 300 personnel in theater on Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care, or MC4. The teams also equipped healthcare professionals at the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, Iraq, with more than 200 ruggedized systems to aid them in electronically capturing patient records.

The effort marked the completion of equipping all level-three medical treatment facilities in Southwest Asia. About 200 medical facilities now use MC4 to electronically document patient care on the battlefield.

The Balad hospital is the most equipped trauma care facility in SWA, officials said, now that the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Support Group there has MC4. In February, the 455th EMDG, Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, became the first Air force unit to use the MC4 system.

"Our partnership with the Army has enabled Air Force facilities to provide seamless care through a common medical software suite," said Maj. Gen. Charles B. Green, deputy surgeon general for the U.S. Air Force.

"The implementation of MC4 is now providing the capability, in the combat zone, to document patient care as a permanent part of the electronic medical record for all war fighters. Currently, healthcare providers at Bagram and Balad can share a Service member's individual patient record across the continuum of care."

Prior to using MC4, the Air Force accessed several different applications for tracking patient records and patient movement. These applications will soon be phased out, officials said, ensuring Army and Air Force medical treatment facilities are using the same joint software, provided by the Theater Medical Information Program. This will result in a comprehensive, lifelong medical record for all service members, officials said.

"By using MC4, electronic patient records are captured in the central DoD clinical data repository facilitating access for all healthcare providers," Maj. Gen. Green said. "This includes any follow-on care at a VA facility resulting in better healthcare for our wounded warriors. Commanders are assured that their service men and women are provided documented, consistent, high-quality care anywhere they are treated."

To date, MC4 has fielded more than 21,000 systems and trained more than 22,000 deployed healthcare professionals throughout Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Qatar, Europe and South Korea, leading to the capture of more than 2.5 million electronic health records on the battlefield.

"We've seen the benefits of providers in the Army, Navy, Special Forces, and even the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, using MC4," said Lt. Col. Edward Clayson, MC4's Product Manager. "With the Air Force utilizing the system, we - the Armed Forces - are getting that much closer to providing a complete medical picture for commanders and a lifelong health record for all service members."

MC4 integrates, fields and supports a medical information management system for Army tactical medical forces, enabling a comprehensive, lifelong electronic medical record for all service members, and enhancing medical situational awareness for operational commanders. Headquartered at Fort Detrick, Md., MC4 is under the oversight of the Army Program Executive Office, Enterprise Information Systems, or PEO EIS, at Fort Belvoir, Va.

(Ray Steen serves as MC4 Public Affairs Officer)