Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

MTFs respond to COVID-19 with increased telehealth, drive-thrus

Image of Military physician sitting at desk, talking to patient on his computer. Click to open a larger version of the image. Lt. Adam Hoynacki, a physician at Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s Family Medicine Clinic, conducts a Navy Care virtual health visit. Like other military virtual health systems, Navy Care offers a live, virtual visit with a clinician, from the patient's smartphone, laptop, or computer. Patients can use it from work, home or anywhere that offers privacy. (Photo by Jacob Sippel, Naval Hospital Jacksonville.)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Technology | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

The Military Health System’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic included practical solutions to complex medical and logistical problems at military medical treatment facilities.

As COVID-19 has spurred innovations in the way health care is delivered, virtual health, or telemedicine, has risen to the task of maintaining social distancing while offering providers, service personnel, and retirees and their beneficiaries the medical input they so critically need.

Through virtual health, “The Military Health System has coordinated policy, expanded video conferencing capability, increased on-demand clinical access and educated thousands of providers on safely providing care,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Sean Hipp, director, Virtual Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas.

“This is a revolution in military medicine that we hope will continue to expand safe, high quality, convenient care to garrison, but also be leveraged to support our most sacred mission of the deployed service member in harm’s way,” Hipp noted.

Many COVID-19 patients live in areas with limited critical care expertise and capacity. The Joint Tele-Critical Care Network (JTCCN) “leverages virtual health to extend critical-care resources and treatment at a distance, similar in concept to how air traffic control systems track and direct planes to ensure they — and their passengers — safely reach their destinations,” said Dr. Simon Pincus, chief of the Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch, during a recent presentation. “The JTCCN provided almost 1,200 days of coverage to more than 300 unique patients in 61 intensive care unit beds across 11 spoke sites from January 2020 to June 2020.”

The DHA is also exploring a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a single federal tele-critical care network to provide care to any of the 1,700 VA or 400 DHA ICU beds.

The pandemic also saw an expansion in the use of the nursing advice line (NAL) and the implementation of a phone screening tool for COVID, with overall call volume up approximately 25% during the year.

The goal of the NAL is to alleviate patient concerns, provide multiple sources of evidence-based advice and protect patients and medical staff by offering telephone and, in some cases, video visits.

Image of hospital Seaman, wearing a mask, organizing prescriptions on various shelves in a pharmacy
Hospital Seaman Apprentice Gianna Tamburro, assigned to the Naval Medical Readiness Training Command, organizes prescriptions alphabetically by patient name at the Naval Health Clinic Charleston Pharmacy at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. The NHCC Pharmacy altered their customer service operations to have the primary way to obtain a prescription be through the drive-thru because of COVID safety precautions. (Photo by Airman Sara Jenkins, Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs.)

To minimize the risk of exposure to the beneficiaries and military medical treatment facility (MTF) staff, the NAL added capabilities to allow the scheduling of beneficiary virtual (telephone) visits with its care team. At its peak on March 19, the NAL had 10,247 calls. The numbers gradually declined but hit another high in July, DHA Healthcare Optimization Division Chief Regina Julian said. The screening tool uses questions from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-based guidelines to assess a patient’s risk for having COVID-19.

Between May 12 and Dec. 10, there were 6,602 page views and 5,176 users on the COVID-19 symptom checker website. A total of 576,421 unique patients have viewed their COVID-19-related test results online, Julian reported.

Additionally, the virtual support to operational force (ADVISOR) line, enabled on-demand provider-to-provider teleconsultation.

One onsite effort was to test asymptomatic patients thought to have COVID-19. Patients were sent to Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington, from their respective commands, along with patients awaiting elective surgeries and those deemed necessary for administrative purposes. This testing led to new insights about the infection rates of the disease.

MTF pharmacies found ways to get patients their prescriptions with a minimum of patient-staff interaction by responding to DHA guidance on prescribing during COVID-19; while adhering to and state and local social-distancing requirements.

Each pharmacy has tailored solutions to fit its physical layout, staffing capacity and patient populations.

Some pharmacies, such as Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas, set up curbside pickup within 48 hours once the need for social distancing during the pandemic became known.

Since March 2020, the drive-through staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) has served more than 16,066 patients, amounting to approximately 59,444 prescriptions dispensed. That is approximately 10% of total patients served at the drive-through site, according to the medical center’s public affairs office.

The success of drive-throughs and curbside pickup has enabled new, convenient solutions that will continue across MTFs for the foreseeable future.

In September, WRNMMC opened a permanent prescription drive-through pick-up, which replaced earlier, more temporary, iterations.

“When conditions are met, it is the most efficient point of service of all our pharmacies, with wait times averaging one minute or less,” said Army Maj. Hyun Cho, chief, WRNMMC Department of Pharmacy.

You also may be interested in...

How MHS Video Connect Improves Mission Effectiveness and Care Quality

Article
5/18/2022
Army Lt. Col (Dr.) Robert Cornfeld explains how MHS Video Connect's convenient, secure, and easy-to-use virtual video visit capability helps providers keep patients on mission and improves engagement with them, directly leading to better health outcomes.

Open to all active duty service members, retirees, and their families enrolled in a military hospital or clinic, MHS Video Connect empowers patients to meet with their military health provider virtually through live video on any internet-connected computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Connected Health | MHS Video Connect | Information for Providers | Military Hospitals and Clinics

How MHS Video Connect Improves Mission Effectiveness and Care Quality

Photo
5/18/2022
How MHS Video Connect Improves Mission Effectiveness and Care Quality

Army Lt. Col (Dr.) Robert Cornfeld explains how MHS Video Connect's convenient, secure, and easy-to-use virtual video visit capability helps providers keep patients on mission and improves engagement with them, directly leading to better health outcomes.

Recommended Content:

Technology

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nurses Week Toolkit: United In Service, Rooted in Strength | Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Article
4/28/2022
Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Article
4/25/2022
Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Article
4/18/2022
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Two new studies of active-duty service members show COVID-19 booster vaccines are effective, but uptake rates in the military community lagged behind the civilian population.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

Video
4/15/2022
Got Your 6 | April 16, 2022

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, on days that end in ‘6.’ It includes the latest information about DOD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

New App Addresses Service Women's Health Care Needs

Article
4/1/2022
Deployment Readiness Education for Servicewomen, one-stop resource for some of the most common questions and concerns that servicewomen have around deployment. (Photo: Connected Health)

The Defense Health Agency announces the release of Deployment Readiness Education for Servicewomen, the agency’s newest progressive web application.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Technology
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 46

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.