How Defence Medical Services Can Use Telemedicine To Improve Patient Outcomes

military using telemedicine

Accessing quality healthcare in readiness for deployment, within a hostile environment, or during a military operation is an ongoing challenge for the Armed Forces. But advances in telemedicine – technology that enables remote communication between medical professionals and their patients – are playing an increasingly important role in improving both qualities of care and patient outcomes.

Eliminating the need to send top surgeons to the frontline, medical experts can share their knowledge and expertise in high-risk situations where there is an imminent threat to life and a lack of resources. Rods&Cones remote assistance services can bring in the best medical minds to help tackle everything from routine sick parades to complex medical emergencies on the battlefield. 

The Medical Arm Of The Military

In the UK, the Defence Medical Services (DMS) spans the Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force (RAF) with the purpose of promoting, protecting, and restoring health to make certain they are medically fit for duty, wherever they’re stationed in the world. Likewise, in the US military, the Medical Service Corp and Air Force Medical Service constitute one of the largest healthcare providers in the country. 

Military medical personnel provides a full range of healthcare services –including initial consultations, dental care, rehabilitation, and mental health support alongside specialist medical care. With resources spread thin both at home and abroad, the military medical services need new, innovative, and cost-effective solutions, to ensure top medical expertise is more evenly distributed across the Armed Forces. 

The need for improved care and outcomes for personnel has led to a number of trials within different areas of the military, exploring viable use cases for the use of telemedicine.    

Real-Time Remote Supervision 

One of the first and most obvious applications for remote assistance technologies is for video telemedicine consultations at sick parades – the daily procedures for sick personnel to report to the Medical Officer (MO). Rather than the MO traveling to different locations, they can give advice remotely, whilst an on-site Combat Medical Technician (CMT) conducts the consultations (with the patient’s permission). 

This approach to consultations means that medical experts can be shared where and when it’s needed the most. Minor, non-urgent cases can easily be handled by the CMT, and the MO can provide a higher level of guidance on more complex conditions via audio and video links. 

Opportunities For Telementoring

Not only does real-time remote supervision of consultations create savings in terms of travel time and expenses, but it also opens up opportunities for telementoring. As the name suggests, telementoring takes place over a long-distance connection, typically via audio and video feeds between a mentee in the operating room (OR) and a highly-qualified mentor in another location – potentially anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. 

Telementoring can help improve patient care by upskilling frontline healthcare workers. But for telementoring to be a success in the medical profession, the equipment needs to be versatile and sophisticated enough to capture the consultation or surgery in high definition, so that the remote expert has a clear and accurate picture of the proceedings. This is especially vital in a surgery where precise incisions need to be made. 

Upskilling front-line medical personnel to prepare them for potentially life-saving prolonged field care, alongside teams of life-safer trained troops, are two options for improving the outcomes of battlefield casualties. But this approach has to be part of a wider care package where the right surgical support is on its way. Telementoring connects frontline medics with surgical expertise, the only challenge is how to facilitate it.

Rods&Cones kits not only provide a full-HD, surgeon’s eye view of the OR, but they can also offer connectivity for additional sources, such as heart-rate monitors, and x-rays – so that remote mentors have all the available information on hand to offer the best advice.  

Timely Support For Ill Or Injured Personnel 

With the Armed Forces scattered around the world in remote and inhospitable environments, on land, sea, and in the air, access to the right medical expertise can be highly restricted. There are two options: transport the patient to a hospital, or transport a medical expert to the patient. A third option is to use a remote surgical assistance service from Rods&Cones.  

In past conflicts where the military has enjoyed aerial superiority alongside first-class field hospitals, frontline troops were never too far from first-rate medical care. However, troops in more remote and hostile environments have to rely on localized, lower-level care. To access higher-level health care, they first have to wait – sometimes for days – and then they need safe passage for evacuation.

The critical window for trauma patients to receive surgical care is known as the ‘golden hour’, the time between sustaining an injury and being put under the care of a surgical team. The truth is, many of the wounded simply don’t have days. 

Typically, a costly and potentially dangerous evacuation mission is the only way to bring a patient to the right level of care. But for critically ill or injured patients, long-distance transfers mean they’re not able to receive the timely support they need, which can impact patient outcomes. So how can casualties of conflict get the timely surgical care needed to improve patient outcomes?

By transmitting medical information from the OR to a remote expert, frontline healthcare workers can get the expert guidance they need, on demand. One of the main barriers facing the military’s remote medical emergency systems is that key patient data cannot be easily transmitted from the site of support, such as a field hospital, to a remote medical advisor in another part of the world. This is vital for an accurate pre-evaluation of a patient’s injury and condition to ensure the right treatment is administered. 

Rods&Cones enables information from the OR to be securely shared with an external expert, including video, audio, and any other audiovisual source. 

How Rods&Cones Can Help 

Rods&Cones remote assistance service opens up life-changing medical knowledge to frontline healthcare workers stationed anywhere in the world. 

Whether it’s guidance on a more complex condition reported at sick parade or specialist surgical knowledge in a remote location without the relevant expertise, our technology facilitates the sharing of medical knowledge, upskilling medical professionals, and ensuring better patient outcomes.  

For military medical services, telemedicine has huge potential to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. And the right technology makes it possible. 


Find out more about remote assistance services from Rods&Cones.

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