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By Jullie Chung, Managing Editor
The World Health Organization has raised the pandemic alert level as cases of swine flu continue to manifest in more countries including Spain, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Israel. However, the elevated alert level does not qualify swine flu as a full-blown pandemic but rather indicates its level of transmission through human-to-human contact. Though transmission is significant this does not mean pandemic proportions are inevitable.
Swine flu first manifested in Mexico City where 152 fatalities have been attributed to the outbreak as of April 28, 2009. The United States has reported 91 cases, 28 of which include a body of students from Queens, New York returning from a class trip to Cancun, Mexico. As of April 30, 2009, there has been one fatality attributed to the virus in the United States. This fatality was a 23 month old infant in Texas. Though the child was in the United States at time of passing, he/she had recently entered the United States from Mexico.
One of the greatest questions asked is: how do I know if I have swine flu? According to the Center for Disease Control common symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat, body aches, chills, headache, and fatigue. Swine flu can often be accompanied by vomiting and severe intestinal distress as well. It may be difficult to discern at first as symptoms are very similar to ordinary flu. A good indicator, however, is rapid temperature increase and a fever above 101.5°F.
Since swine flu is transmitted person-to-person in much the same way as “standard” influenza, steps to prevent catching the virus are also very much the same: wash your hands regularly with soap, avoid contact with people already sick, avoid touching communal contact surfaces, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and wash your hands immediately after, drink lots of fluids, and stay well rested.
Prescription antiviral drugs have been proven to help alleviate symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency authorization for expanded use of the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. Additionally, the CDC’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile has released one quarter of its antiviral drugs in addition to personal protective equipment and respiratory protection devices to help contain and control the virus in outbreak areas.
The Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization continue to investigate the outbreak and work towards definitive solutions for prevention and control of the virus. But the best prevention at present is awareness and taking simple steps towards avoiding contact with the virus. Above all, if you feel ill or come down with flu like symptoms, the CDC strongly urges you stay home and avoid contact with others.
by Jullie Chung, Managing Editor
For seven years now the United States has had to call upon our armed forces to represent the United States and defend freedom far from home. In a state of war lives are always at risk, and the men and women of our Armed Forces are put in harm’s way. At no point is this ever taken lightly, and even in times of peace ongoing research is constantly dedicated to improve and ensure the welfare of our soldiers in every scenario and under all conditions they may be faced with.
Combat Casualty Care is an area of research that is of prime importance in the field of military medicine. Military organizations such as the Department of Defense, the US Army Medical Research and Material Command, the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, and the Military Operational Medicine Research Program dedicate much of their time and resources to the research and development of techniques and devices to improve the quality and outcome of combat casualty care.
Combat casualty care refers to a system of pre-hospital care administered under combat conditions. This type of care includes battlefield care as well as trauma care administered once the soldier is removed from the combat environment and is en route to a medical facility. The ongoing goal of research in this field is to decrease the battlefield mortality rate, to reduce the morbidity of injuries sustained in combat, to reduce the medical foot print left on the battlefield, and to overcome the myriad of complications arising from the need for medical attention in combat situations.
When considering the logistics and/or chaos of battlefield conditions, there are a wealth of arenas where military medicine seeks to make improvements and provide solutions. Just one of these areas is in the sphere of soldier status and monitoring.
Similar to static patient monitors that exist in ambulances and hospitals, military medicine has been conducting ongoing research for more than ten years towards development of an active, real-time system to monitor and observe the physiological status of each individual soldier while out in the field. Referred to as the Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor (WPSM), this device has recently been tested and is undergoing constant development and improvement.
Like a hospital patient monitor, the Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor relays information such as heart rate, respiration, and core temperature. However, each soldier is monitored remotely from a central command as opposed to the individual being hard-wired to a static monitor. Soldier monitor feeds can route back to locations as immediate as the Commanding Officer, or as remote as a central command location.
The functional goal of the WPSM is to provide a comprehensive, on-going assessment of soldier status at all times under all conditions. With real time information from each soldier, officers can better assess and estimate the risk of any given operation based on soldiers’ vital signs and responses to the given environment. Additionally, under live or “hot” combat situations, individual monitors provide key information to rapidly locate, identify, triage, and treat any combat casualties.
Conceptually, the WPSM will monitor every aspect of the soldier’s combat state. Aside from the obvious vital signs, researchers are developing algorithms to assess soldier function and performance in long term heat or long term cold exposure, uphill and downhill slope conditions, load carriage, and terrain adaptations. Physical monitoring will extend as deeply and intricately as body orientation, skin temperature, fluid retention, soldier sleep cycles, rest and activity ratios, and even ballistic impact detection and assessment.
Ultimately, the WPSM will be equipped to provide feedback on soldiers’ mental status as well. This capability will be key in assessing and monitoring soldier readiness and fitness for any given combat situation. Cognitive function, psychomotor functions, mood, and anxiety level can all be transmitted based on algorithms drawn from empirical information such as blood flow to the brain, pupil responses, voice fluctuation, cardiac parameters, glucose levels, and electroencephalography.
In a compact, lightweight, weather-proof form, researchers hope to integrate the Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor as part of the Future Force Warrior combat system.
Recently, the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and the Civil Support Team-Weapons of Mass Destruction (CST-WMD) conducted a field test of a Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor prototype. The WPSM was utilized in enclosed environment situations (i.e. tunnels, sewers, septic tanks) in order to test the efficacy of the unit in remote locations, as well as to monitor the physical state of the wearer under those conditions. Additionally, the WPSM was tested with firefighters in limited access locations. Both series of prototype tests yielded positive results and provided important feedback on the physiological state of the user while performing their required task.
Though under development with a focus on use in the military, the success of the Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor would serve the civilian sector as well. In conjunction with recent advancements in telemedicine, remote status monitor technology could assist greatly in providing more advanced medical treatment for individuals in rural settings, as well as assisting the elderly or those in critical condition with limited mobility or access.
The Warfighter Physiological Status Monitor is just one of many combat casualty care solutions under research and development. In the interest of protecting and caring for the soldiers of our armed forces, military medicine continues to advance ideas and technology to provide contingencies and answers for all possible combat casualty care obstacles.
by Jullie Chung, Managing Editor
Telemedicine continues to be a rapidly growing industry within the medical world. Providing global access for medical professionals and medical care to even the remotest locations, telemedicine is a valuable application for practicing clinical medicine.
Telemedicine is generally defined as the exchange of medical information via phone, internet, or other network or electronic means for either consultation or treatment of medical conditions.
The term telemedicine is often confused with “e-health”. E-health is more commonly used as a blanket term that incorporates telemedicine as well as other concepts such as telehealth. The World Health Organization describes e-health as, “the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in support of health and health-related fields including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge, and research” (World Health Organization 2005). Telemedicine itself refers only to the direct dispensing of clinical, medical care.
Telemedicine is most commonly practiced in either real time (synchronous) form, or store-and-forward (asynchronous) form. Real time telemedicine entails the direct interaction between medical professionals or between physician and patient. It could be as basic as a phone consultation, video-conferencing between specialists, or as intricate as the relay of real time medical images and data using networked diagnostic or procedural equipment.
Store-and-forward telemedicine is an indirect means of communication where medical data (i.e. diagnostic images, patient records, monitoring information) is stored and then transmitted at a later date. This form of telemedicine does not require the presence of both parties and is conducted more at the convenience of the sender.
The concept of telemedicine has been in development since the 90’s but has made exponential leaps in capability since then. There have been major advancements in the development and implementation of the end-to-end telemedicine architecture required for information to be transmitted. Network infrastructure has been optimized for speed as well as for security in order to keep all exchange of information HIPAA compliant.
Additionally, medical research and development has allowed for more advanced medical equipment and supplies capable of transmitting data along the telemedicine superhighway. Going beyond the simple video-conference, physicians are now able to utilize tools such as examination cameras, electronic stethoscopes, laptop based ultrasound systems, electrocardiograms, and x-ray scanners to feed information immediately and accurately to a second party in real time. These systems provide opportunities for clinical care in even the remotest of locations.
The application of telemedicine has both national and global scope. In the United States institutions such as the University of Arizona College of Medicine have developed and implemented active and far-reaching telemedicine programs. Senator Robert Burns and Dr. Ronald S. Weinstein partnered in developing what is today the Arizona Telemedicine Program. Funded by the Arizona State Legislature back in 1996, this telemedicine program is state mandated and provides telemedicine services to geographically remote locations within the state of Arizona, to the Native American population, and the Department of Corrections rural prison facilities.
On a global level, organizations like the International Society for Telemedicine and e-Health have already established telemedicine possibilities in diverse countries across the world including Nigeria, China, India, South Africa, Russia, Indonesia, Singapore, Democratic Republic of Congo, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Europe. Telemedicine extends the reach of clinical and medical care into areas of the world otherwise inaccessible to modern medicine.
But telemedicine provides benefits and solutions even on a local scale, enhancing the quality of in-home medical care, skilled nursing care, and hospice care. For the elderly, disabled, or those under critical care, telemedicine can eliminate the difficulty of transport to an outside facility for certain care. According to the Telemedicine Information Exchange–funded by the National Library of Medicine–Medicare now covers telemedicine treatment for nursing home patients residing in facilities that support end-to-end telemedicine network capabilities.
In this information age telemedicine is one more bridge to shorten distances and enhance access and efficiency. With more and more facilities, cities, states, locations, and countries becoming telemedicine-ready, we can look forward to a time where medical treatment can be readily provided wherever needed.
November 4, 2008 in Alternative Medicine, Disaster Relief, Green Environmental, Health Insurance, Hospitals, Clinics & Labs, Medical Equipment, Medical R & D, Medical Services, Mobile Medical Units, News, Pharmaceuticals, Pharmacies & Drug Stores, Physicians, Senior Communities
by Jullie Chung, Managing Editor
OneClickMed is pleased to announce the upcoming launch of our website and online medical portal.
OneClickMed is a one-stop solution for every aspect of the medical industry, from physicians and hospitals, to medical equipment manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. As a web-based portal we bring together the whole of the industry to one place for exchange of information, marketing, advertising, education, patient information and access, and even office management and informatics.
Most importantly, OneClickMed offers a cost-effective solution to optimize, automate and streamline the business processes in a physician’s office, including the marketing efforts, and the secured communication network with patients, physicians and medical business providers.
OneClickMed’s Web Portal has a fully secured state-of-the-art HIPAA compliant communication and telemedicine network with an automated web based EMR system that is accessible 24/7 365 days a year.
OneClickMed will be featured as part of the Innovators Showcase at Health Content08, hosted by InfoCommerce Group, November 12-13 at the Park Hyatt in Philadelphia, PA.