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Medical Airmen work to improve patient care efficiency in Afghanistan

Emergency room nurse Capt. Katie Barnack and trauma surgeon Lt. Col. (Dr.) Valerie Sams, currently deployed to the 455th Expeditionary Medical Group at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, demonstrate the T6 Health System, which is in trial phase at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital.

Capt. Katie Barnack, an emergency room nurse, and Lt. Col. Valerie Sams, a trauma surgeon, both currently deployed to the 455th Expeditionary Medical Group, demonstrate the T6 Health System, which is in trial phase at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 30, 2019. The T6 Health System mobile device application is a high resolution, digital documentation system that may be used to replace some paper records and streamline patient care processes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Anna-Marie Wyant)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) --

Medical professionals at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital, or CJTH, at Bagram Airfield are working to make positive impacts during their deployment so future patients and providers can benefit.

Lt. Col. Valerie Sams,455th Expeditionary Medical Group trauma medical director and physician, is leading a trial use of the T6 Health System mobile device to improve trauma care at CJTH, the most capable Role III trauma hospital in Afghanistan.

The current trauma resuscitation documentation and data collection process in Afghanistan is very similar to the process stateside, Sams said. A five-page paper form, a trauma resuscitation record, is used to document patient care and is hand written by healthcare teams.

“The Joint Trauma System’s Department of Defense Trauma Registry struggles with data capture since much of it relies on handwritten documents and from memory during trauma events that must be scanned to be trackable and viewable by registry personnel,” Sams said.

“Unfortunately, there are many flaws in today’s healthcare environment with a pen and paper system of documentation,” she added. “Much of the paper documentation comes up missing, is not legible, and in theater, many pieces of the patient's record remain behind in theater, never making it to the central data repository due to the nature of traumatic events under duress in a war zone.”

The T6 Health System mobile device application is a high resolution, digital documentation system, that is a multi-dimensional data and point-of-care analytics system that opens up the possibility of precision and predictive trauma care to theater if CJTH staff can explore the feasibility of using this technology in routine care of trauma patients, mass casualty situations, point of injury and en-route care.

“The in-theater trial will allow us to conduct a simulation of utilizing the application through the continuum of care involving all potential end-users and stakeholders to determine logistical and technical feasibility,” Sams said. “Utilization of such an electronic record capture tool will enable us to realize the benefits over a paper and pen system that has many times failed the healthcare delivery system in capturing longitudinal health record information for our warriors and all beneficiaries under our care.”

Sams said the system promotes and supports a reliable and secure bi-directional data exchange with existing information systems, which streamline paperwork processes across various hospital staff and functions.

“Patients move through many teams of care, and it can be challenging to get a good picture of exactly what happened from the time of injury to the time of treatment,” said Capt. Katie Barnack, emergency room nurse. “This will help us keep a more complete record and helps us give patients the appropriate care at the appropriate time. We’re also able to capture a lot more data, ensure it’s accurate and get it in their permanent records.”

Barnack said the trial, which began in early March, has been going well.

“The system is user friendly—I like it,” Barack said. “We’ve already used it on several real traumas. I think it’s more efficient.”

At the end of the day, Sams said it’s all about improving efficiency in patient care, and ultimately saving lives and helping joint and coalition forces get home to their loved ones.

“I think there is no better way to connect to the mission than to be here to take care of those who are putting their lives on the line,” Sams said.

The 455th EMDG is the medical component of Task Force Medical-Afghanistan, providing combat medical services and support to U.S. and coalition forces throughout Afghanistan. The group staffs the CJTH and serves as hub for all aeromedical evacuation missions within the Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan.

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