Can Telemedicine Help Wounded Warriors With Recovery?

U.S. veterans receiving medical care are monitored with cell phones.

by / November 12, 2009

Photo: mCare Web portal. Photo courtesy of AllOne Mobile.

U.S. veterans with traumatic brain injuries who require medical care and constant follow-ups now have an extra resource to make their lives easier. Thanks to the U.S. Army's Mobile Care (mCare), a telehealth pilot program, veterans with traumatic brain injuries or other serious injuries can be medically monitored by using their cell phones.

Researchers at the U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) are using AllOne Mobile technology to determine if wounded warriors have a better recovery if they're in frequent contact with their case managers. The pilot started in summer 2009 and has 100 soldiers enrolled, but will expand to accommodate 10,000 returning soldiers in a phased implementation over the next year, according to AllOne Mobile.

Participating veterans must have phones with text messaging capability. However, if they don't have a phone, one is provided for free. In addition, veterans who already have phones, but do not have a data plan, can add one and are then reimbursed by AllOne Mobile.

What Is mCare?

mCare is a downloadable mobile application that facilitates two-way communication between patients, doctors and approved third parties. The application lets users store health-care information on their phone in one place and provides a secure channel for sending and receiving messages, according to the company.

mCare has a Web portal with a dashboard that lets patients provide feedback about their sleeping habits and mood swings to their case managers. Patients can also get tips and appointment reminders, which have proven to be beneficial. According to preliminary survey results, more than 75 percent of users think it's easy to use and 90 percent said the wellness tips have been helpful.

"mCare allows the CBWTU [Community Based Warriors in Transition Unit] to communicate to soldiers who are on the go and whose time is limited," said Staff Sgt. Richard Fortuna. "It also allows the CBWTU to give reminder updates to the soldiers who need it, i.e., soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder who may have issues remembering appointments."

So far, more than 5,000 messages have been sent through the system. mCare research sites are located in various parts of the country, including Massachusetts, Virginia, Illinois and Florida. However, there are other care facilities in California, Utah, Arkansas and Puerto Rico. mCare is one of three pilot programs that TATRC is piloting.


Karen Stewartson

Karen Stewartson served as the managing editor of Government Technology for many years. She also contributed to Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.