Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Boosting military healthcare with AI, telemedicine

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India’s Armed Forces Medical Services is beefing up its digital capabilities to address the pressing health challenges of soldiers and their families.

Since the start of the year, it has entered into multiple research collaborations with the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad, Delhi, Kanpur, and Roorkee to develop digital technologies, particularly diagnosis AI models and medical devices for remote care.

Through these partnerships, it is also exploring opportunities to harness robotics and nanotechnology in healthcare delivery and enable drone-based patient transport. 

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune, AFMS’s main training institution, has become the pilot site of a telehealth collaboration between the Ministry of Defence and the  ​Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Over two years, it will operate a special cell of Tele-MANAS, the Health ministry’s national telemental health helpline, to provide round-the-clock access to mental healthcare for armed forces personnel and their families. 

Additionally, the AFMS and the Indian Council of Medical Research have an ongoing research partnership focused on the health impacts of high-altitude terrains, battle-related or post-traumatic stress disorder, aerospace medicine, infectious diseases, and other health issues faced by military service members. 

WHY IT MATTERS

The Indian Army commits to its modernisation, proclaiming 2024 the “year of technology absorption.” Technology, it realised, has emerged as a driving force in modern warfare.

Alongside advancing its technological capabilities in defence and warfighting, it is also upgrading its delivery of healthcare services to armed forces personnel who are increasingly deployed in mountain regions. More has yet to be done in understanding and treating varied and complex health issues soldiers encounter during their deployments, the AFMS noted, emphasising the importance of its latest research partnerships.

THE LARGER TREND

Military forces across Asia-Pacific have also initiated projects to modernise their healthcare delivery.

The Australian Defence Force is undergoing a multi-year upgrade of its digital health system. In 2022, it awarded a consortium led by Leidos the contract to deliver a range of technologies, including EMR, telehealth, e-prescribing, practice management, e-referrals, clinical decision support, AI and data analytics, by 2028. 

Military hospitals in the Philippines and Uzbekistan have recently integrated Lunit’s chest X-ray screening AI solution into their workflows to enhance the detection of lung diseases. The same solution has also been deployed to the Korean Navy’s destroyer ROKS Yangmanchun stationed on the Gulf of Aden.

Earlier this year, an upgraded EMR system went live at Singapore Armed Forces Medical Corps. Running on both Sunrise EMR and Altera Opal, the Patient Care Enhancement System 3 system enables soldiers to access their medical history and to manage and book their medical appointments. The system is also now connected to Singapore’s National EHR.

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