TBI patients to be part of Army pilot text program

The Army wants to develop a text-messaging system to communicate with service members suffering from traumatic brain injury. The system would help health care providers monitor TBI patients as well as prompt them to take treatment actions.

In a Sept. 16 solicitation for the project, the Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity in Fort Detrick, Md., called for an initial pilot project covering 100 patients, with subsequent incremental 1,000-patient increases to a maximum of 10,000.

“The primary function of this technology will be providing message prompts to the service members' personal cell phones from their health care providers,” the solicitation said.

The pilot project would involve TBI patients being treated at North Atlantic Regional Medical Command (NARMC) Community Based Health Care Organizations (CBHCOs) located in Rock, Island, Ill, Concord, Mass., and Virginia Beach, Va.

The program would upgrade, if necessary, the existing cell phone plans of participating patients to receive up to 100 messages per month.

Cell phone prompting has already made its way into the health care technology arena. A U.S.-sponsored international AIDS relief effort, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), announced earlier this year a $10 million project to use cell phones to treat and educate people about HIV/AIDS. The program, called Phones-for-Health, will benefit 10 PEPFAR-supported countries by 2010.

Programs like PEPFAR, and the one being contemplated by the Army, are being supported by new technologies that provide wireless-based health care information and monitoring.

WellDoc Communications Inc., based in Baltimore, has a system that prompts diabetes patients to test blood glucose levels at specific times of the day and provides feedback on the results.

Hello Health, a product from a Quebec City-based company called Myca, provides a cell phone-based service that monitors nutrition, exercise, and medical conditions, and enables patients to schedule mobile videoconferences with its doctors. Yet another company, MyRapidMD Corp., a start-up based in Marina Del Rey, Calif., provides software that can be downloaded onto Web-enabled phones, which stores vital information that is accessible in case of emergency.

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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