Evolving Army Medicine: Optimizing Care for the Warfighter and the Army Family

Article excerpt

Army Medicine is an integral part of keeping the Army strong. We are committed to keeping soldiers ready and resffient and meeting all aspects of their health-care needs from battlefield injuries and illness to behavioral-health and preventive-health education. As a member of the military health system, we actively partner with our soldiers, their families and our veterans to achieve the highest level of fitness and health.

Focused on delivering the best and highest quality care at the right time and place, Army Medicine has historically played an important role as a leader in developing innovations for trauma care and preventive medicine that save lives and improve the wellbeing of our uniformed personnel. These innovations have also improved and influenced the delivery of civilian health care around the world.

The past decade has brought new challenges for Army Medicine. We face an extremely tough enemy resulting in an increased number of wounded warriors with multiple amputations and complex, devastating injuries. Some of those injuries are visible, and others, such as traumatic brain injury and behavioral health concerns, are not as visible but greatly affect our soldiers and the quality of their lives. To meet these health-care challenges and save lives on the battlefields and in our medical treatment facilities, we have a highly trained and skilled medical team augmented with the most modern medical technology available. In addition, we've instituted a variety of initiatives specifically designed to enhance the quality and delivery of health care when and where it's needed.

Patient-Centered Medical Home

The U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) is implementing the Patient-Centered Medical Home. This is a proven model of longitudinal health-care delivery that improves continuity of care and enhances access through improved patient-centered care and effective patient-provider communication. The Patient-Centered Medical Home ensures better outcomes, fewer hospital admissions for patients with chronic diseases, lower utilization of emergency rooms, unproved patient compliance with recommended care and reduced medical spending. Soldiers, retirees and their families who enroll in Patient-Centered Medical Homes develop consistent relationships with their health-care teams. Healthcare teams are committed to delivering quality care from the first contact and continuously and comprehensively thereafter. Under this model for care, we make the transition from a health-care system to a system for health that advances our commitment to building value and inspiring trust with our soldiers, retirees and their families.

A Holistic Approach

We have embarked upon a system for health that places our patients at the center and in a partnership with their medical team to holistically address their health-care needs: mind, body and spirit, as well as social and family fitness. To address many of these needs, Army Medicine has implemented a comprehensive pain-management campaign plan to address the "culture" of what pain represents to our patients and to promote a pain-management strategy that will implement more than 100 enhancements through a holistic, interdisciplinary and multimodal approach. This management strategy incorporates state-of-the-art/science modalities and technologies, incorporates evidence-based complementary and alternative therapeutic modes (such as acupuncture, biofeedback, yoga, meditation, and so on), advances pain medicine through education and research programs, standardizes services at echelons of care across our medical treatment facilities, and provides optimal quality of life for the members of our Army family with acute and chronic pain throughout the continuum of care.

Behavioral Health

Effectively and efficiently providing the right care at the right time promotes a healthy military population and ready force for our Army. The comprehensive behavioral health system of care addresses the human dimension of the Army force generation model - the highly personalized resiliency and behavioral-health needs of each individual soldier and family. …