Military’s Eye Care Using Telemedicine

With funding from the 59th Medical Wing at Joint Base San Antonio, in Texas, Air Force and Army medical researchers are developing a HIPAA-compliant smart phone app to connect providers downrange with on-call ophthalmologists either in theater or at a clinic to assist with eye injuries.

“Ten to 15 percent of combat injuries involve the eye,” reports Major (Dr) William G. Gensheimer, Ophthalmology Element Leader and Chief of Cornea and Refractive Surgery at the Warfighter Eye Center at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

The smart phone app called FOXTROT will bring specialty eye care much closer to the point of injury. “If there is Wi-Fi connectivity, the user can video teleconference to contact the ophthalmologist either in theater, in a clinic in Germany, or in the U.S to receive real-time consultation for their patient. When there is no connectivity, the app will function like secure email and then the medic is able to send the information,” said Gensheimer.

According to Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jennifer Stowe, an Optometrist and Deputy Director of Administration at the Virtual Medical Center at Fort Sam in Houston Texas, “FOXTROT addresses the need for specialized telemedicine capabilities specifically focusing on treating eye trauma downrange.”

Currently, the app is being developed in collaboration with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. The next step is to test the application to ensure it functions well downrange and then develop standardized protocols for the app.

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