Womack Army Medical Center and Soldiers from the 44th Medical Brigade had the opportunity Oct. 3 to field test innovative technology in Army medicine using Medical Hands-free Unified Broadcast (MEDHUB).
MEDHUB uses mobile pressure sensors, accelerometers and other technology cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to improve the communication flow between patients, medics and receiving hospitals.
Currently, Army medics document all pre-hospital or pre-medical treatment facility (MTF) interventions on a Tactical Combat Casualty Card.
This documentation by the medics is handwritten and important in order to guarantee fluidity in patients’ care from first responders to the transfer of patients into the hospital or MTF.
“This system really fills an operational gap of ours where we’re not able to take those trending sets of vitals in the back of the ambulance and project that information forward,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Polsca, evacuation platoon sergeant from the 550th Area Support Medical Company, 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 44th Med. Bde.
MEDHUB’s suite of technology autonomously collects stores and transmits non-personally identifiable patient information from a device, such as a hand-held tablet, to the receiving hospital via existing long-range Department of Defense communications systems.
“The fact that I can let the doctor ahead of me know what he or she has coming in is miles ahead of where we are,” Polsca said.
The receiving hospital displays the information sent from MEDHUB on a large screen so clinicians can see what is inbound, including the number of patients and their vital statistics.
The Womack Emergency Room had the opportunity to test the pilot system during real-world tragedies with Soldiers from the 44th Med. Bde.
Maj. Rosalie Bennett, chief nurse, Womack’s Department of Emergency Medicine, explains how before testing the pilot equipment the ER normally reacted to patients as they arrived.
“A lot of times there is little to no communication before an ambulance arrives to the ER,” said Bennett. “We either get a call from range control with some information or an ambulance just shows up. So we can’t prepare for how many (patients) or what the injury or injuries are. It could be an amputee or a cut.”
MEDHUB is being developed through a project with the U.S. Army Medical Material Agency and the U.S. Army Medical Material Development Activity both subordinate organizations of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC).
“Now we have the opportunity to properly assess an emergency and gather the appropriate staff and resources for the patient(s),” Bennett said. “We are now waiting on the patient, instead of the patient waiting on us.”
The USAMRMC will continue testing the system with users and are on track for wider Department of Defense use by 2019.