Telemedicine system does its part

FARWANIYA, Kuwait — A soldier is wounded on the battlefields of Iraq, removed from danger and transported back to a Defense Department medical facility in Kuwait.

Normally, that soldier's commander would wait hours or even days to get an update on his wounded comrade's status, but the Patient Accounting and Reporting Real-Time Tracking System (PARRTS) delivers information almost immediately, said Army Lt. Col. Eric Radford, medical regulating officer for the 3rd Medical Command, Atlanta.

"It provides the commander with a real-time response to get reports about soldiers taken out of the theater," Radford said during an April 3 phone interview from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Army hospital administrators and staff use Web-based PARRTS to enter clinical data on wounded personnel and then quickly respond to requests for information from commanders in the field. The Office of the Army Surgeon General recently implemented the system, and users are granted a log-on password and identification by Army Medical Command headquarters, San Antonio, Radford said.

Because the system deals with confidential patient records, commanders cannot access it directly, but "they contact us and we tap into the system," he said.

Bandwidth constraints are the biggest challenge that the system faces in southwest Asia because nonsecure lines are quickly gobbled up as the war progresses, said Radford, 48, a reservist from Aikens, S.C., who as been here since December 2002.

Still, PARRTS and the Transportation Command Regulating and Command and Control Evacuation System, a Web-based system used to move and track military patients worldwide, have performed admirably since the war began, Radford said. However, he said he could not provide any details about the number of patients in the systems or the number of requests from commanders due to operational security requirements.

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