There have been a number of ground-breaking efforts by the Army to meet the needs of Soldiers with mobile apps, but one effort that still escapes the Army is documentation of the care provided at point-of-injury. Let's not kid ourselves, charting care does not come before life and limb. Yet, we're tasked with ensuring what's often the Soldiers' first and most important medical footprint is documented, somehow, someway. With that in mind, let's review what's been done and where we might be headed.
There is AHLTA-Mobile, a mobile app that provides the digitized version of the DD 1380 and SF 600, loaded on an MC4 handheld. In some instances it works fine, but in others it may not. Oftentimes, I've heard that many prefer to wait until they are back at their stations to enter all their notes after they've had a chance to shower, eat and refocus after a hard day's work on the battlefield. That's understandable, but we still need to find a way to take notes in real-time.
We can help Soldiers and providers communicate hundreds of miles apart using telehealth capabilities, but we can't figure out how a medic can do the same down range, smartly yet safely?
To add fuel to the fire, medics aren't required to use the handhelds, and Soldiers providing buddy care aren't equipped with handhelds. Finding a way to give fellow Soldiers and medics a tool where they can provide care and document care immediately is really what we need to accomplish.
At MC4, we're dedicated to keeping an eye out for a solution to this frustrating problem. When we are able to provide appropriate apps on mobile electronic devices, this tool will be better than the current AHLTA-Mobile software on the MC70. Voice recognition is an option that keeps surfacing in conversations. I agree that hands-free is a future goal, but only time will tell.
There's also the possibility of adding a smart card reader to the MC70 that would allow medics the ability to record medical information from the handheld in a non-connected environment. This is an inexpensive solution for documenting care and ensuring that information is transmitted to the Soldier's EMR.
Providing a link between the tactical radios and the MC70 would allow transmission of POI and routine medical information to the next level of care. A third solution still is using an audio recorder as a non-network device which would enable audio capture of POI medical information that travels with the patient. Additional information could be added by MEDEVAC.
We're closely tracking these potential solutions and getting involved and anticipating the Army's solution for tactical radios and smart devices so we can use new technology to solve POI care documentation. Participation in NIE adds an additional layer of validation of user requirements, new concepts, training and a chance to get user feedback.
In the next couple of weeks, we'll be talking to Lt. Col. Daniel Kral, the chief technology officer at the Office of the Chief Information Officer with the Army Medical Command, about point-of-injury documentation. He's written a white paper on how to improve electronic health record documentation at all levels of care in theater. He has some interesting insight that we'll be sharing with you in an upcoming feature on The Gateway.