The Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany https://rhce.amedd.army.mil/landstuhl is involved in delivering high quality comprehensive specialty care virtually across three continents serving the Army, Air Force, Navy, NATO, and Defense Logistics Agency. Comprehensive specialty care is delivered virtually by using video-conferencing technology and using advanced medical devices such as otoscopes, stethoscopes, and general exam cameras.
However, one area that has proven difficult involves providing ship-to-shore virtual health capabilities. To help achieve this goal, information technology experts from Landstuhl recently joined forces with the Navy Health System to establish a virtual health connection between the USS Mount Whitney, an amphibious command ship, and the U.S Naval Hospital in Naples, Italy.
According to Navy medical officials, establishing video teleconference capability on a warship underway is not a simple task. The connection must be secure, use equipment organic to the ship, and have high enough bandwidth to connect with medical specialists ashore.
“Formal, video-enhanced virtual health connectivity to Navy ships while underway has been a challenge and is not yet routinely available, particularly not on an unclassified platform”, reports Lt. Cmdr. (Dr) Isaac Schwartz, Staff Otolaryngologist with the U.S Navy Hospital in Naples Italy.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Schwartz, “The goal was to connect the Mount Whitney and the Navy Hospital by using the Landstuhl’s ability and system to augment access virtually to specialty care for sailors aboard the ship.”
“The virtual test was successful and audiovisual connections at all locations were clear”, said Judson Rackley, Telecommunications Systems Manager at Landstuhl. “We worked with the Navy and Defense Information Systems Agency personnel to test different methods of connection. This cooperative effort was done to identify what would provide the most reliable connection. The biggest challenge was to develop interoperability between networks