Cell Phones: Answering the Call for TBI Patients

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Could cell phones play a key role in treating traumatic brain injury? A robust group of clinical, technology, and research experts working out of the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) would argue yes. The concept, created by Col. Ron Poropatich, M.D., involves upgrading personal cell phones with unique software that would enable case managers and staff in care facilities to send targeted reminder messages to individuals regarding their specialized treatment plans.

The system is simple yet has the potential to create lasting change in warrior care. Right now, the plan targets community-based warrior transition units (CBWTUs), which provide outpatient care to Army National Guard and Reserve members with TBI after they are released from inpatient medical facilities. To date, eight CBWTUs exist, located in the North Atlantic and Southeast regions of the U.S. This study is being conducted through three CBWTUs located in Rock Island, Ill., Virginia Beach, Va., and Concord, Mass. Additional CBWTUs will be added as the project progresses.

“A formal communications structure was set up well in advance to ensure smooth transfer of information and coordination between the oversight team and the CBWTUs,” says project manager Holly Pavliscsak. Medical directors, platoon sergeants, case managers and project liaisons in each of the CBWTUs are all involved in managing the Web-faced portal, which serves as a database for message distribution and monitoring.

Through the program, every eligible soldier that comes into one of the designated CBWTUs will have his or her personal cell phone upgraded with the mCare application. Once upgraded, the phones will receive SMS text messages announcing new treatment and program information, when available, and appointment reminders, when applicable. Even with the special software, cell users must open the secure application by entering a password before being able to access the appointment reminders, as well as important health and medical information related specifically to their treatment plan.



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