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Army Medicine continues to conserve fighting strength

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By LT. GEN. NADJA WEST

Since 1775 Army Medicine has remained one team with one purpose—conserving the fighting strength. To support our nation’s Army and all those entrusted to our care; Army Medicine is comprised of a committed team of over 150,000 professionals who provide a continuum of integrated health services, research, training and education that no other health care organization in the world can provide.

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The Army Medicine Enterprise is a team of military and civilian professionals with a reputation for individual and collective excellence focused on the mission at hand—supporting our nation’s Army and all those entrusted to our care. Army medicine provides unparalleled, responsive health
services, research, training and education whenever and wherever needed; from our garrisons to our farthest deployed locations. The years of accumulated experience, expertise, and know-how of our teammates combine to create a total medical force without peer. Our people are our strength.

Army Medicine has four strategic priorities that are bucketed into three categories—the current fight the future fight and the always fight.

Readiness and health and health care delivery are all part of the current fight. We see readiness and health closely coupled as our Army derives its power from the collective strength of its Soldiers rather than advanced platforms. Our Soldiers are our most prized and effective weapons system and a Soldier’s health is an essential component of his or her readiness.

n Medical Readiness. We are transforming our understanding of medical readiness in order to maximize the fighting strength of our nation’s Army. The newly developed medical readiness assessment tool allows command teams, leaders and clinicians to proactively identify Soldiers who are on a trajectory that could result in a permanent deployment-limiting profile. This will enable clinicians to determine root causes for health issues and develop courses of action that maximize Soldier readiness.

n Dental Readiness. Go First Class is an Armywide initiative that addresses dental readiness, wellness and prevention. Since January 2011, GFC and other initiatives contributed to a 25 percent decrease in acute dental care appointments and a 60 percent reduction in all dental treatment needs. GFC has directly improved Soldiers’ dental readiness and dental wellness, reaching all-time highs of 96 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

n Responsive medical capabilities. During the past 14 years of combat we have seen a survivability rate of 92 percent, the highest in the history of warfare, despite the increasing severity of battle injuries. These advances in combat casualty care resulted from our integrated healthcare system that spans the continuum of care across prevention, treatment and recovery or rehabilitation.

n Health of the Force Report. In November 2015, Army Medical Command published the “Health of the Force” report, the Army’s first attempt to review, prioritize and share best health promotion practices at the installation level. Senior leaders now are able to track the health of the Army, installation by installation, and to share lessons learned at different ends of the health spectrum.

n Performance Triad. Army medicine has continued its transition from a health care system—a system that primarily focused on treating injuries and illness—to a system for health that focuses on improving health and wellness of all service members, Families, Soldiers and retirees. Army medicine has partnered with key stakeholders across the Army to develop the Performance Triad Strategy, investing in our Soldiers, DA civilians, retirees and their Families with the goals of enhancing personal health readiness, sustaining resilience and optimizing performance.

n Health care delivery. We fully intend to maintain our long-standing commitment not only to treat the wounds of war, but also the noncombat injuries and illnesses of our Soldiers, their Families and our retirees.

n Primary care. Primary care is delivered through integrated teams of health care professionals who proactively engage patients as partners in health with a stronger focus on prevention. Army Medicine comprised 134 Army medical homes across the United States, Europe and the Pacific who care for 1.3 million beneficiaries. These facilities have been recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, representing the gold standard of patient-centered medical care.

n Behavioral health. Behavioral health care is a key factor in force readiness. In support of Armywide efforts, we continue to work to decrease the perception of any stigma that surrounds seeking behavioral health care. Programs such as embedded behavioral health, primary care behavioral health, and school behavioral health focus on reaching Soldiers and their Families outside the medical treatment facility to improve access and reduce any perceptions of stigma.

n Virtual health. Virtual health provides clinical services across 18 time zones in over 30 countries and territories. Army medicine executes approximately $14 million per year on clinical uses of VH such as Tele-Behavioral Health. In fiscal year 15, Army clinicians provided over 40,000 provider-patient encounters and provider-provider consultations in garrison and operational environments in over 30 specialties via VH.

The future of Army medicine at the individual, organizational and enterprise level is being determined today. Army medicine must continue to develop capabilities that are responsive to operational needs with organizations comprised of Soldiers who are able to effectively operate in a joint/combined environment characterized by highly distributed operations and minimal, if any, pre-established health services infrastructure. The Army Medical Department Center and School/Health Readiness Center of Excellence is leading our effort to develop agile and adaptive leaders while continuing to design and develop our training, doctrine and capabilities to ensure we are postured to support the Army in future operations.

n Streamlining Structure. Army medicine continues to align its structure to better support our nation’s Army and the joint force. We have completed transformation of 15 Regional Command headquarters to four multidisciplinary regional health commands, and by the end of fiscal year 2017, MEDCOM will transform from 20 to 14 subordinate command HQs. In doing so, Army medicine is aligning with our Forces Command Corps and our Army service component commands in order to be more responsive to operational requirements.

n Medical Research. The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command is the Army’s medical materiel developer, with responsibility for medical research, development and acquisition, as well as medical logistics management. MRMC manages the full life-cycle of medical technologies and materiel, from discovery through development, procurement, maintenance and disposal to support the readiness and optimal health of our armed forces, to provide our health care providers with technologies to protect Soldiers from disease and injury and to provide optimal care for casualties, particularly on the battlefield. MRMC is also continuing biosurveillance and virus characterization activities through its overseas and domestic laboratories. Further, MRMC is now working in support of the National Laboratory Response Network.

We always take care of our Soldiers for life, DA civilians and our Families as they are our strength. In Army medicine we say people first, mission always.

For the past 14 years we have supported joint campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, responded to natural disasters and have taken decisive action during other contingencies such as the U.S. government response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In doing so, Army medicine continues to prove we are the nation’s premier, expeditionary medical force meeting the challenges of a complex world—and we remain globally engaged,
regionally aligned and ready to face the ever changing challenges of tomorrow. Army medicine will continue to stand as a unique organization that has the versatility, agility and scale to adapt to challenges that arise at home or abroad. n