A Medical Battlefield
"We have hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many of the soldiers would arrive without records in Germany, with no record of the CAT scans or what happened in surgery in Afghanistan or Iraq. The clinicians in Germany would have to re-operate on the patient, would have to redo all their x-ray evaluations, CAT scans, etc...."
Most American citizens do not see Black Hawk helicopters and falling mortars as daily scenery, but the American soldier on tour in Iraq or Afghanistan does. Receiving medical treatment on a battlefield is dramatically different than in a hospital stateside, but today interoperable information holds the power to change military medicine.
Colonel Holcomb is a researcher and clinician in the Army. He testifies to the importance and need for interoperable electronic health information in the military, especially in a war zone. "Without an electronic medical record (EMR), we're relying on pieces of paper that are inadequately filled out or if they are filled out, they get lost as soldiers move from a small little surgical site to a larger site by helicopters or ground, and then get transported on a cargo plane to Germany. Then another cargo plane transports them to the United States, and pieces of paper get lost in the shuffle." When pieces of paper holding medical information get lost in the military, soldiers pay the price as their doctors try to put the puzzle pieces of medical information together. However, a soldier's health can hold the key for how daily operations are carried out for fellow soldiers on the battlefield.
Colonel Holcomb works with the Joint Theater Trauma Registry, which is a database that allows injury patterns and outcomes to be tracked. "It's an extraordinary research opportunity to help find out what was going on at each level, and how patients did, and what their outcomes were, but the Joint Theater Trauma Registry is really hampered by not having electronic data at every site that is compatible from one site to the next, and transferable from one site to the next. It is limited in its scope, quality, and timeliness."
"If we had that timeliness factor we could respond with injury patterns, changing tactics, and techniques and procedures of the enemy, and we would recognize injury patterns." However, military hospitals in the United States do not have the tools needed to track injuries and relay preventative information to those in command in a timely fashion.
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"We have hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many of the soldiers would arrive without records in Germany, with no record of the CAT scans or what happened in surgery in Afghanistan or Iraq. The clinicians in Germany would have to re-operate on the patient, would have to redo all their x-ray evaluations, CAT scans, etc...." ~ Colonel John Holcomb