According to J.S Levite, Air Force Surgeon General, Air Force Medical Service (AFMS) www.airforcemedicine.af.mil, “Advancements largely come from research which often results in emerging technologies. Research also, helps to usher in new capabilities to the AFMS and puts concepts into practice.”
Lawrence Mitchell from the AFMS Research team said, “Research is driven by the warfighter. The major commands and Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) identify the capabilities that they lack and what the facilities need. We figure out how best to fill the gap with new ideas and concepts.”
The Air Force uses systems like the Defense Technical Information Center to record everything that they have done—even the failures. This is done so new research in the same area can then head in a different and possibly more productive direction.
The Air Force reports that the majority of the medical research is done by the 722th Human Performance Wing at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, and the 59th Medical Wing at the Joint Base in San Antonio.
One of the main focuses for the Air Force is to do research on how to transport patients from one environment to another. For example, if a service member is injured in Afghanistan, the Air Force can transport the service member to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and then possibly transport the injured to the U.S. The Air Force medical team is very often successful and able to monitor all their vital signs while transporting the patient.
The 59th Medical Wing specifically focuses on improving en route and clinical care. They research how best to help diabetics and patients with hearing loss to doing research on integrated medicine and more holistic type modalities to minimize pain.
Also, Lawrence Mitchell reports, “The medical community and the research community are much bigger than just the Air Force. We have a limited pool of resources, so we make the best decisions possible for those dollars. Sometimes contracting research out is the best way to do accomplish that goal.”