Battlefield software supports medics' efforts to provide care
Monitoring multiple patients simultaneously in combat and effectively triaging them has never been an easy task for medics. However, mobile technology is enabling Air Force pararescue jumpers to have health data at their fingertips, giving them the ability to treat the most critically wounded first.
The wrist-mounted Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit (BATDOK), developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, runs on a Samsung Galaxy S series Android smartphone connected to FDA-approved wireless sensors that display the health status of casualties, providing instant alerts if certain vital signs drop or spike.
“BATDOK by design is an open architecture, so as a new FDA-approved sensor comes online, we can adopt that protocol,” says Gregory Burnett of the Airman Systems Directorate in the Warfighter Interface Division of the 711th Human Performance Wing, who managed the development of the software. “It is very modular and scalable to meet today’s and tomorrow’s demands.”
According to Burnett, the Army and other military services are using BATDOK for several operational needs and is being evaluated as a “joint” capability, given that optimizing trauma care delivery is critical to saving lives in combat and also during humanitarian missions.
One of BATDOK’s major technological advancements is a documentation tool that is taking military medicine on the battlefield into the digital age, enabling medics to assign degrees of urgency to the wounded and to decide the order of treatment for patients accordingly.
“Prior to BATDOK, medics and pararescue jumpers were documenting infield point-of-injury care by just writing on the patient with either a Sharpie or on to a little, paper-based 5x7 Tactical Combat Casualty Care card,” says Burnett.
The problem with using a marker or ink pen in a battle zone to document care is that it is “susceptible to the rain, mud, blood and sweat in that environment,” according to Burnett. “What BATDOK has done is digitized this form and with just a few clicks has automated the documentation process,” he adds.
BATDOK’s documentation tool enables medics to digitally document the types of patient wounds, where they are located on the body, as well as the “mechanism of injury,” such as blunt force trauma, bullet, burn, fall, grenade, improvised explosive device or landmine.
The tool is succinct, saves time, and the “accuracy and transference of knowledge has increased significantly to the next level of care,” contends Burnett.
Digital maps also provide medics with situational awareness on the battlefield, identifying the exact locations of casualties. “This information is shared so there is a common operating picture as to how many patients are out in a certain area,” Burnett concludes. “This really increases the accountability of our patient care by plotting them on a digital map.”
Another important feature of the platform is a portal to integrate patient data into the U.S. military’s electronic health record system, he notes.
BATDOK transmits the information to the Department of Defense’s legacy Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA) and will ultimately link to the new Military Health System GENESIS—Cerner’s Millennium EHR—which is currently being rolled out and will be fully implemented in 2022, serving more than 9 million DoD beneficiaries globally.