Challenge: a complete medical picture for Soldiers
During the Gulf War and other deployments, the Army identified the need to find a way to centralize and digitize medical records. In the past, medical records were manually recorded on paper and often lost or destroyed because of environmental conditions during an operational deployment. Because of incomplete or missing medical records, many soldiers are unable to apply for Veterans Affairs benefits.
In 1997, Congress mandated the Department of Defense establish a system to ensure every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine has a comprehensive, lifelong medical record of all illnesses and injuries. Meeting that mandate is the Army’s Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) program, headquartered at Fort Detrick, Md.
MC4 provides the Army’s solution to presidential and congressional objectives, set forth by Title 10, Section 1074f, which called for a medical tracking system for all deployed Service members.
Journey: improving health IT in the warzone
MC4’s niche as the systems integrator, trainer and technical support arm for deployable medical units enables the program to put new technology into warfighters’ hands faster and better. However, delivering emerging capabilities to the battlefield isn’t easy. MC4 must simultaneously upgrade and sustain current systems throughout the combat zone.
By working with industry, defense partners and the user community, MC4 meets this challenge head-on. MC4’s technology efforts, supported by MainSpring and CACI, aim to continuously deliver improved system quality, performance and capabilities in what has been an emerging and urgent requirement on the front lines for years.
Engineering secure, innovative systems to support rapidly growing needs of Army medical units providing healthcare to soldiers is paramount to MC4’s success. That’s why the MC4 team delivers on average 2.5 major system upgrades per year, in addition to system patches and post deployment system support updates. But the challenge is more than just technology.
Logistically coordinating the upgrade of thousands of IT systems that vary by unit size, use, location, configuration and network is a challenge for any material fielder. But paired with battlefield environments, and ensuring hundreds of applications and patches properly integrate without breaking a system or hampering a unit’s mission is a feat unique to MC4’s mission.
MC4 taps directly into the user community to learn how systems are being used so improvements can be made, all the while adhering to Army network and system information assurance requirements. Experts ensure continuous process improvements by taking part in functional and testing working groups, relaying customer feedback to developers while evaluating the next generation of technologies, like telemedicine, virtualization, point-of-injury recording and smart devices.
From 2014 to 2015, the MC4 team completed a technology upgrade of more than 3,500 active deployable systems in what the MC4 commander called “the shortest period of time in the history of the program.” The effort not only ensured more than 560 military units in 16 countries were armed with the latest technology, but earned the MC4 team the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States Award as the top IT team.
Impact: improved healthcare for Service members
By equipping deployed medical units with automated resources, the MC4 team helps to ensure that Service members have a secure, accessible, lifelong electronic medical record (EMR), which results in better informed health care providers and easier access to Veterans Administration medical benefits.
- helped Soldiers receive a secure, accessible, lifelong medical history; improved continuity of care and easier access to VA medical benefits
- equipped deployed medical staff with access to data to make better-informed medical decisions and digitally manage medical supplies
- enabled medical commanders to make better tactical and medical decisions; gain access to improved operational surveillance; use digital tracking, reporting and trend analysis