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Tertiary telemedicine support during global military humanitarian missions

, : Tertiary telemedicine support during global military humanitarian missions. Telemedicine Journal 2(3): 201-210

The U.S. military medical units face the challenge of delivering the latest medical knowledge and advances to remote areas of the world. This study details the tertiary care telemedicine support by Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) for these humanitarian missions in several locations worldwide. This study encompasses data from all clinical consults received at WRAMC, from the earliest deployment of a satellite-based system in February 1993 through February 1996. The analysis of the consultations include type of consult, medical specialty consulted, response time, and technology used. Two hundred forty consults were received from 12 remote telemedicine sites supporting military medical missions. The consults used a combination of "store-and-forward" technologies and interactive video conferencing systems. Establishment of a telemedicine service at WRAMC, including medical and technical support personnel, facilitated the delivery of telemedicine consultations. Several concurrent missions were supported. The distribution of consults included medicine (40%), surgery (36%), radiology (21%), and dentistry (3%). The most frequently consulted medical subspecialty was dermatology (29%) followed by orthopedic surgery (16%). Most consults were routine (88%). Ninety-four percent of the consults were completed within the predefined telemedicine response criteria (24 hours for routine consults and 3 hours for emergencies). The study illustrates the importance of a responsive telemedicine service at a tertiary facility supporting simultaneous medical missions. Access to the complete spectrum of medical and surgical specialties was essential to enhancing the delivery of medical care. The critical analysis and evaluation of this experience will assist in designing future prospective studies for evaluation of telemedicine.


PMID: 10165543

DOI: 10.1089/tmj.1.1996.2.201

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