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

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

Military physician sitting at desk, talking to patient on his computer 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 | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

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...

DOD recommends adults 75 and older should seek COVID-19 vaccine

Article
1/19/2021
Nursing home members, wearing masks, wait in a line to get their COVID vaccine

This age recommendation differs slightly from that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends vaccinations for those 65 and older.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine for Adults Age 75 and Older | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 hinders blood donations during National Blood Donor Month

Article
1/14/2021
Navy Capt. R. Wade Blizzard, commanding officer of U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia, donates blood for the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Units Diego Garcia walking blood bank on Dec. 17, 2020. The walking blood bank is a list of eligible donors who can provide blood in case of emergency. (U.S. Navy photo by Navy Seaman Apprentice Stevin Atkins)

Life-saving blood is in high-demand by the Armed Services Blood Program, as the COVID-19 has negatively impacted donations.

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Public Health | Coronavirus | January Toolkit

Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health

Article
1/14/2021
Image of Mr. Adler with text: "Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health."

Jamie Adler, the lead for the DHA’s Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office, discusses the future of virtual health (VH).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Connected Health | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID presents new set of challenges for DOD environmental health

Article
1/12/2021
Group of Marines, snowshoeing through the snow

One of the most important factors to take into account when maintaining one’s overall fitness is physical environment.

Recommended Content:

January Toolkit | January Toolkit | January Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Total Force Fitness

DOD Launches “My MilLife Guide” Text Message Program to Boost Wellness

Article
1/11/2021
The new My MilLife Guide program supports the wellness of the military community.

DoD has launched My MilLife Guide, a new program that sends text messages designed to help the military community boost overall wellness while navigating stresses related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Navy corpsman provides multitude of support to hospital

Article
1/8/2021
Two military personnel, wearing masks, in a supply room looking at the shelves

“Thinking outside the box is what makes a great person, let alone a Sailor," Tie said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

MTF facilities, markets set to resume transition heading into 2021

Article
1/6/2021
A military nurse, wearing a mask, prepares a needle for a vaccination

Butler says transition on track.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus

BACH healthcare workers and first responders vaccinated for COVID-19

Article
1/6/2021
Soldier gives a nurse a vaccine in her left arm

BACH now joins other Defense Health Agency military treatment facilities that have received the vaccine, marking the start of a phased-in vaccination program to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Toolkit

MHS operational innovations continue in battle against COVID-19

Article
1/5/2021
Two medical personnel, wearing full PPE, in an operating room

MHS innovations in 2020 include a new registry for real-time COVID-19 data and a system to free up hospital beds and protect patients from the disease.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation | Innovation | Technology | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Countering seasonal depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Article
1/5/2021
Man with his head in his hands, sitting in front of a Christmas tree

SAD, or sometimes called seasonal depression, is a subtype of a major depressive disorder.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Psychological Fitness | Depression | Suicide Prevention

Remote monitoring program enables COVID-19 patients to recover at home

Article
1/4/2021
Two medical personnel, wearing masks, looking at the contents of a home-based COVID treatment kit

The program equips COVID-19 patients needing additional monitoring with a home healthcare kit and 24/7 oversight from registered nurses to ensure a higher level of post-hospital care.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus | Innovation | Nurses Week

DHA’s IT innovation continues during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
12/31/2020
Three military personnel, wearing masks, in front of a computer screen

IT innovations keep pace despite COVID-19 road blocks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation | Technology | MHS GENESIS

HHS and DOD statements on FDA authorization of Moderna vaccine

Article
12/28/2020
Image with documents and vaccine products laying on table

Operation Warp Speed has allocated more than 5.9 million doses of the vaccine for jurisdictions to receive in the coming week.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Vaccine Trials | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Protecting the Force: How the MHS helped sustain readiness in the face of COVID

Article
12/23/2020
Hospital personnel treating a patient on a stretcher

The Military Health System is reviewing how it kept warfighters mission-ready and units online in 2020 during the ongoing pandemic.

Recommended Content:

December Toolkit | Combat Support | Coronavirus

AFHSD’s GEIS collect data worldwide to support force protection

Article
12/22/2020
Medical personnel scanning forehead of soldier with thermometer

AFHSD/GEIS continue work with partners across the globe in their efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health | Coronavirus | Biological Surveillance Tools | Global Health Engagement | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 25

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.