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Fast Drones, Faster Decisions the Future for Combat Injured

August 26, 2015

By Ramin A. Khalili, USAMRMC Combat Casualty Care Research Program Knowledge Manager

During a break between meetings at the 2015 Military Health System Research Symposium, Lt. Col. Jennifer Hatzfeld spoke about the concept of innovation in the field of mobile trauma care.

"I'm excited because I think we're at a point where clinicians can see solutions," said Hatzfeld, manager of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's En Route Care Portfolio.

Tasked with developing both the knowledge and the tools required to help stabilize and transport Warfighters injured on the battlefield, Hatzfeld points to four specific ongoing efforts that she says could help close a number of portfolio gaps.

The first development, according to Hatzfeld, is expanding medical capabilities for combat injured in a transport environment. This involves assessing and then delivering the correct therapies for a patient in a stabilizing environment.

The second is the integration of so-called "intelligent tasking" which uses factors such as physiology to determine patient need.

"Instead of 'Do we need to move this patient -- yes or no,' it's moving toward 'What kind of care does this person need?'" said Hatzfeld of such tasking.

Telemedicine -- specifically those cases involving virtual ICU environments -- and unmanned patient movement, which may involve the use of drones and other types of automated equipment including robotics, are also emerging care areas according to Hatzfeld.

"Soon, machines will be able to sense how the patient is doing and act from there," said Hatzfeld of the latter.

With a strong vision, Hatzfeld is constantly looking to leverage the En Route Care Portfolio's unique lines of effort in order to stay on the leading edge of innovation.

"We're on the right track," said Hatzfeld of those efforts.

MHSRS is DOD's premier scientific annual meeting, which combines three previous conferences, including the former Advanced Technology Applications for Combat Casualty Care Conference; the Air Force Medical Service Medical Research Symposium; and the Navy Medicine Research Conference. By combining these conferences into one event, the meeting serves as a critical strategy session for leaders to set future milestones for the Department of Defense's deployment-related medical research programs, centered on the needs of the Warfighter.

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