Clinical Topics

Military Services Develop Remote Monitoring to Improve Battlefield Medicine

by U.S. Medicine

May 16, 2018
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Robert Bean, a pararescue jumper, demonstrates how BATDOK can be worn on the wrist, providing awareness of the health status of multiple patients.
Air Force photo

WRIGHT-PATTERNSON AFB, OH — What if battlefield medics could monitor multiple injured servicemembers in the field thought a new electronic monitoring tool? The answer isn’t some futuristic concept but technology that actually exists now.

Based on recent innovations, both the Air Force and the Army are well on their way to using remote monitoring to save wounded warrior lives.

To develop the Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit (BATDOK), Air Force researchers got out of the lab and actually embedded on missions with medical airmen. The software can run on a smartphone or other mobile devices. It extracts patient information from a range of commercially available, Food and Drug Administration-approved sensors.

The integrated development process was critical to making BATDOK a tool that seamlessly integrates mobile capabilities for Airmen in the field,

“BATDOK is a multi-patient, point of injury, casualty tool that assists our human operators and improves care,” explained project manager Gregory Burnett, PhD, of the Airman Systems Directorate in the Warfighter Interface Division of the 711th Human Performance Wing. said Burnett. “It can be a real-time health status monitoring for multiple patients, a documentation tool, a user-definable medical library, a portal to integrate patient data into their electronic health records, and finally it is interoperable with battlefield digital situation awareness maps, which helps identify the exact location of casualties.”

Burnett was able to use his background is in computer engineering, with an emphasis in embedded electronics and mobile interfaces, to design BATDOK but realized hands-on experience was necessary to make it most useful in the field.

“We physically left the lab, got into the field with the operators, and observed firsthand the challenges and deficiencies they face,” Burnett said in an Air Force press release. “And when I say into the field, I mean we literally rode in the helicopters into hot landing zones, and observed medical Airmen stabilize and package up patients for transport and load them back on the helicopter.

“We see, at the point of injury, the challenges and limitations that our medical Airmen face. With those lessons learned and gaps identified through direct experience, we come back to the lab and devise innovative solutions to address the short falls we observed firsthand in the field.”

Communication with real-world medics continued throughout the design process, Burnett pointed out, adding, “From day one, every interface, every button, every menu, was user-validated by pararescue Airmen and combat rescue officers that were involved in the design, integration and testing process,” said Burnett. “Nothing is added without the explicit request and review by the operator.”

One issue was to not add to the heavy loads carried by medical airmen, he added. “BATDOK was designed to not add any additional burden to battlefield Airmen’s tactical ensemble,” said Burnett. “From the beginning, we are designing to enhance capabilities, while aiding their survivability and le

The Army also is doing cutting edge research in remote monitoring on the battlefield and elsewhere. Earlier this year, Army Medicine launched the Army Virtual Medical Center at Brooke Army Medical Center.

At the kickoff ceremony, Lt. Gen. Nadja West, the surgeon general and commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command, described the importance of virtual medicine in saving injured soldiers on the battlefield.

“This capability will be increasingly critical to ensure that soldiers will survive war wounds and make it home,” West said. “Our primary focus is care for our soldiers, and also our sailors, airmen and marines, because in this joint environment the bullets, injuries and illnesses know no boundaries or uniform color.

“We have to be mobile, we have to be fast … and we have to be ready to support them in a full range of military operations,” she noted.

Mobile medics demonstrated at the event some of the equipment they use to complete a patient assessment and communicate with a health care provider via video conferencing.

Comments are closed here.

Related Articles

VAMCs Usually as Good or Better Than Private Hospitals in Same Communities

Veterans are being given more options for obtaining care outside of the VA healthcare system. The question raised in new research is whether doing so improves care.

Report Could Add 23 Presumptive Conditions for Gulf War Veterans

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that sufficient evidence supported an association between exposure to seven factors and detrimental reproductive effects in men or women who served in the Gulf War or developmental effects in their children.

U.S. Medicine Recommends

More From battlefield medicine


Study Looks at Soldiers’ Pre-Deployment Respiratory Health

The respiratory health of military personnel deployed to Southwest Asia continues to be an issue of great concern in light of their exposures to a variety of environmental hazards.

Battlefield Medicine

'Hacking' to Improve Care for Wounded Warriors

Hacking isn’t always a bad thing, especially if the result is devices that can help protect servicemembers from injuries.

Battlefield Medicine

Military’s Early Use of Blood Transfusions Saved Lives of Wounded Warriors

Blood transfusion as quickly as possible was a lifesaver for wounded warriors in Afghanistan.

Battlefield Medicine

Device Developers ‘Kicked a Hornet’s Nest’ in Hemorrhage and Shock Treatment

For Air Force Col. Todd Rasmussen, MD, and Jonathan Eliason, MD, the idea for a new way to treat internal hemorrhaging on the battlefield was hard-won.

Battlefield Medicine

DoD Advances Development of Freeze-Dried Plasma for Battlefield Deployment

For the first time since the Korean War, American troops have access to freeze-dried plasma in the field. Currently only available to special forces, the blood product has already saved lives.

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up