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Android, iPhone And iPad Being Tested For Medical Use On The Battlefield

I was always under the impression that medical documentation was reserved for the office and the hospital.  Not necessarily so — even in the battlefield, medics document medical care in real time.

Unfortunately, the tools they use to do this documentation consists of bulky Motorola hand held devices that are four years old.

Four years is an eternity in the tech world.  To put this in perspective, I was still rocking a Motorola RAZR back then.  So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Army is field testing the iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones in the battlefield. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

How The VA Can Help Our Female Veterans

Women are the fastest growing segment in the US military, already accounting for approximately 14 percent of deployed forces. According to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 20 percent of new recruits and 17 percent of Reserve and National Guard Forces are women. As the number of women continues to grow in the military, so does the need for health care specifically targeted to their unique concerns.

Historically, lower rates of female veterans have used the VA system. “Research has shown that women didn’t define themselves as veterans in the past, and this is changing,” said Antonette Zeiss, PhD, a clinical psychologist and Acting Chief for Mental Health Services at the VA Central Office in Washington, DC.

Now, “Women are among the fastest growing segments of new VA users with as many as 44 percent of women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan electing to use the VA compared to 11 percent in prior eras,” said Sally Haskell, MD, Acting Director of Comprehensive Women’s Health, at the VA Central Office.

This change is due in large part to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)*

Veterans Affairs CIO Says iPads Need To Be Secured For Medical Use

In a nod to the reality of rapid physician adoption of tablets and smartphones, the CIO of the VA system recently stated that the VA must find a way to accommodate  iPads at a  conference on federal information technology.

According to Baker, the fact is that 100,000 residents rotate through the VA each year and “they’re all carrying mobile devices”. In order for them to do their jobs, they want to be able to access resources on the internet.

In an article published at nextgov.com, CIO Roger Baker said:

I’ve told my folks I don’t want to say ‘no’ to those devices anymore…I want to know how I say yes.

The key, according to Baker, is security. While the iPad can be secured, proper protocols need to be developed. Otherwise, the device can be likened to a “huge unencrypted USB stick with no pin”. In order to facilitate development of security protocols, a pilot program has been launched giving out iPads to select employees in situations where security is looser. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

The Wounds Of War Are Not Always Easy To See

“My daddy’s in Iraq, but he’s not dead yet.”

– 5-year-old son of a US Marine

Photo of FDA

Roughly 1.7 million Americans have been deployed to Iraq so far. An estimated 320,000 US military have received a traumatic brain injury in the Iraq war. Another 300,000 suffer from major depression or post traumatic stress disorder. The VA is not equipped to handle the mental health needs of all returning veterans and their families. What can we do?

The Give An Hour organization has challenged mental health professionals to donate 1 hour of their time/week to serve the needs of the military. If only 1 in 10 providers joined the program, there would be enough hours to cover the unmet needs.

I met with Dr. Barbara Romberg today to discuss her plans for the program. She envisions an in-office, phone, and online platform for Give An Hour. I sure hope that I can help out with the online platform one day.

If you’re a mental health professional, please consider joining the Give An Hour initiative. Our troops risked their lives for us, and others have sustained life-long injuries – some visible, some invisible.

And there are little boys out there, wondering if this is the day their daddy will die.

Let’s consider how we can be of comfort to those who are suffering on this Veterans Day.

Is The VA Prepared To Handle The Health Needs Of Women Veterans?

Currently, women make up about 15 percent of the active duty forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the year 2020 one in five young veterans will be female. Walter Reed and other Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals are treating more and more injured women than ever before – but are these hospitals prepared to handle all the distinctively female health issues that will be coming their way?

This is the subject of a CBS news segment being released tomorrow night, June 19th. The producers gave me an early head’s up so that I could alert my readers to it, and I immediately reached out to Revolution Health expert, Dr. Iffath Hoskins, for comment.

Dr. Hoskins is well-versed in both military healthcare and women’s health. She completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. and a maternal fetal medicine fellowship at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. (This includes the National Naval Medical Center and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.). She has been the Chair and Residency Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the New York University Downtown Hospital, and the Chief of Obstetrics at Bellevue Hospital. She currently serves as the Senior Vice President, Chairman and Residency Director in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dr. Val: What sort of gaps in care will women military personnel encounter at the VA?

Dr. Hoskins: First of all, the gaps in care are not only for women personnel, but there are gaps in care for all personnel due to resource constraints at the VA hospitals. When the VA system was originally conceived there was no need to support women’s health services as very few women worked as full time military personnel. Now about 15% of military personnel are women. Of course, women have many of the same sorts of health problems as men (migraine headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.) and the VA system is adept at handling those concerns. But when it comes to female reproductive health, contraception, pregnancy, and disorders of menstruation, the VA system is simply not equiped to handle that.

Dr. Val: How can the VA adapt to serve this influx of women veterans?

Dr. Hoskins: First of all the VA needs to recognize the unique needs of women and identify personnel within the VA system who are capable of meeting these needs. Even in the field some of the rules surrounding uniform requirements have not been adapted to suit the needs of women. During wartime and/or deployments, resources for menstruating women (eg private toiletries, contraception, etc) were scarce. So, the women often bled onto their uniforms and this created problems with personal hygeine.

Dr. Val: Does the VA treat military wives and daughters? What sort of care are they currently getting and could women soldiers benefit from those services?

The VA does not treat dependents because they were designed to meet the healthcare needs of individuals returning from serving their countries in a wartime model. TRICARE is the coverage provided to them and many large hospitals and clinics accept this insurance nationwide.

Dr. Val: Do you think that physical disfigurement affects women differently than men?

Dr. Hoskins: I don’t believe that this is an issue. Women soldiers are tried and true professionals. They know that they are in the military to serve their community, unit, battalion, company, and country and have accepted the potential consequences of death and disfigurement. After working closely with these women for 26 years, I know that they consider themselves soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen first and foremost and are committed to doing whatever is expected and required of them.

When I was deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom as one of the highest ranking Reserve Marine physicians, I conducted a research survey to explore the reactions of returning veterans to the large number of women involved in the operation. We asked them how they felt about having women living and working with them shoulder-to-shoulder in times of war, and whether it made a difference to the completion of the mission. We surveyed about 8000 military personnel, and 40% of them expressed concern about having women on the battlefield.

Dr. Val: What specific concerns did they have?

Dr. Hoskins: The respondents believed that the physical load and demand on the young men was greater than on the young women. Sometimes this wasn’t because of differences in physical strength but culturally the men wanted to help the women with their loads, and the women sometimes resented the help.The respondents noted that women who needed to retrieve their fallen comrades behaved differently than their male peers (the women were more likely to cry, which was frowned on by the men). Because the women and men were segregated in their sleeping quarters, accounting for everyone’s whereabouts became more difficult.

Overall the survey clearly showed that there was never a concern about whether or not the women were weapons-qualified. The respondents did not believe that the presence of women affected the success of their mission – but it certainly created distractions.

*Listen To The Podcast With Dr. Hoskins*This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

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