Army sets up secure communication for wounded vets

Toronto-based Diversinet is helping the U.S. Army provide mobile health care applications to wounded soldiers, allowing fully encrypted messaging.

Toronto-based Diversinet signed a five-year contract in late 2010 with the U.S. Army to provide mobile health care (mHealth) applications to wounded soldiers, allowing fully encrypted messaging. The messages, transmitted via the MobiSecure Health platform, will help the veterans, transitioning back to their communities or new units, schedule appointments, set recovery goals, learn about wellness programs and read general announcements from their case managers. Their replies will help the health care professionals track physical and emotional health, including body weight, energy, sleep patterns and anger management.

Yesterday, I talked with Mark Trigsted, Diversinet’s executive vice president for healthcare, about the benefits of an application that will be available to 10,000 recovering soldiers.

Say a soldier is wounded. Does he or she start using your mHealth application back in the States, at a DoD hospital?

It varies, but bottom line, when the wounded warriors come back or are injured stateside, they are assigned a rehab unit based on their physical location. The idea is that they will be rehabbed back and join their regular units, or they will transfer out into the VA system. So they start using the application when they get assigned their rehab unit.

Is the application intended to be used by soldiers with any type of injury?

The pilot of 400, which ended in September 2010, was mostly soldiers with traumatic brain injury (TBI), but now they are rolling it out to all the soldiers in the wounded warrior program without a specific diagnosis. It will be able to help as many as 10,000 wounded warriors.

Can they use the program on any smart phone?

Yes, any smart phone and most feature phones as well. We currently support close to 280 different phones. You’ve got your regular smart phones, which break down into four or so major platforms, but then there’s a plethora of feature phones. So basically, if you can take a picture with your phone you can tie into the system.

Walk me through a typical day with a patient using this program.

It starts with the case manager. All the case manager needs to know is the person’s phone number. The case manager enters this, sends a text, and then we know what the soldier’s phone type and operating system is. Then we either point them to a store where they can download the program, or if it’s a phone that can download automatically they can do it that way. Once the soldier has that, he or she only has a six-digit PIN number to activate the system, which is their soldier ID number. They communicate back and forth with the case manager starting on Day 1.

What are some examples of the communications?

Questions, answers, how are you feeling, looking for signs of depression, here’s your next appointment. There’s a protocol to manage the patients. It works for the wounded warriors very similarly to a text application.

So is the primary benefit the security of the system, or are there features beyond basic texting?

It’s not limited to just texting; the case manager can send questionnaires to the soldiers. But yes, the biggest thing for the Army was security. They wanted to communicate with soldiers and wanted to make it easy to manage. And the primary thing we bring to the table is the security and a plethora of functionalities which we are rolling out.

With an end-to-end secure platform, the data has to be encrypted 100 percent the time, from its source to its destination, in transit and on the soldier’s phone when it’s at rest. We go far past HIPAA compliance.

So it sounds like this could be used for a number of different populations, like the elderly.

Yes, there are hundreds of uses. The system allows clients like the Army to rapidly deploy mobile apps, where you roll them out to multiple platforms at the same time, all within this secure architecture.

Let’s say a clinic wants to go into their back end system and communicate with their patients everything from prescription refills to lab results to radiology reports. All that can be set up. We go to the back end and do an integration to the MobiSecure platform, and it’s pulled out and synced, and you’ve got full tracking from end to end of secure data transmission.

“Meaningful use” is the big buzzword right now for mHealth. There are three stages, from 2011 to 2015, where providers must meet certain requirements. The first step is access and the collection of data. Stages two and three--you have to give personal health information access to all of your patients; and you also have to give self-diagnosis and self-treatment tools. All of these are playing into the big mHealth marketplace.

And we can’t attribute it directly to us, but mCare has received a lot of visibility, and the Army has made a decision that they will allocate cell phones and reimburse every soldier to get an iPhone or an Android smart phone. That’s a big deal. In 2011 the Army is going to have all its soldiers secure a smart phone, and they will use it in many areas.

From Tricare to the VA to DoD, the military is really leading the commercial market in a lot of ways.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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