Military targets smart phones and tablets for EHR apps

By Peter Buxbaum
10:48 AM

The United State military's tactical electronic health records applications could become available on commercial mobile devices, if testing by the United States Army proves successful.

Ongoing tests are running the applications on the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Sprint's HTC EVO, and the Samsung Epic, according to Lt. Col. William Geesey, product manager at the Army's Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) organization .

"Early results show that AHLTA-T and TC2 work on the Apple and Droid operating systems using the devices' stretch, tap and swipe functionality," said Geesey.

AHLTA-T is the version of the U.S. military's Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application electronic health record that is used in theater. TC2, the Theater Medical Information Program Composite Health Care System Cache, is used to store theater medical encounters.

The testing comes as part of MC4's support of three projects being run by medical commands in Afghanistan and Iraq: the Tele-consultation Project in Iraq; the Hands-free EMR Pilot; and the Tele-behavioral Health Initiative.

"While the initial tests show promise, there is still a long way to go before we consider fielding these technologies," Geesey cautioned. "They must clear a myriad of hurdles, including data-at-rest encryption requirements, clearance for wireless use in theater, and a bevy of DOD and local signal certifications."

There are a number of ongoing efforts within the military to adapt commercial mobile devices for military use, including one at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Cal., which is investigating the possible future fielding of 3G and 4G smartphones to troops.

Smartphones "do not not currently satisfy military requirements for encryption, anti-jamming capabilities, and network topology," noted Marine Corps Captain Joshua Dixon, a student in the computer science department at the school.

Among the alternatives Dixon is investigating is incorporating the necessary software encryption into the devices, and developing a sleeve into which a cell phone could be slipped which would supply the phone with the requisite features and functionality.

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