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Dummies for doctors

Air Force Col. Christine Kress (center) observes use of a medical canine mannequin designed to create training environments that prepare medical professionals for events they may face in the field. (MHS photo) Air Force Col. Christine Kress (center) observes use of a medical canine mannequin designed to create training environments that prepare medical professionals for events they may face in the field. (MHS photo)

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Artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) are popular terms for computer-controlled technologies that can enhance our lives, but a new one, MMS, can help improve health care for patients within the Military Health System.

Medical modeling and simulation harnesses new technology to help train doctors, nurses, first responders, and other health care professionals by simulating realistic events in a training environment. 

With a responsibility to improve delivery of health care to 9.5 million beneficiaries, the Defense Health Agency’s Medical Modernization and Simulation Division recently hosted its first Medical Modeling and Simulation Vendor Expo Day.  There, vendors displayed their latest concepts for DHA decision makers.

“This is our first, and what I hope to be annual medical modeling and simulation expo to showcase our capabilities across the MHS,” said Air Force Col. Christine Kress, deputy assistant director, DHA Training and Education Directorate. “Our success relies on the partnerships we have with the industry in creating what we need to meet the training requirements of the warfighter.” 

Those requirements include ensuring medical professionals are prepared for the scenarios they will face in the field, whether in a military treatment facility or on the battlefield.

“It all begins with training so that we can do the incredible things we do downrange,” Kress said.

“The Medical Modernization and Simulation Division is responsible for identifying and implementing the latest medical technology, data, research, procedures, and equipment utilized in the civilian sector or across our services,” said Army Master Sgt. Erik Z. McConnell, DHA’s senior enlisted adviser, Medical Modernization and Simulation Division, Education and Training Directorate. 

Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Alexis Sandoval, assigned to the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, cited the use of medical simulation mannequins on display at the Expo as great tools to help prepare corpsmen for the fleet. 

“The technologies we see on display here would be very useful for us in the field. This technology would definitely help us improve our capabilities and save lives.” Sandoval said.

Sandoval also explained that in the past, the mannequins could only be used to simulate one medical condition, usually through application of moulage or other techniques. But with the development of more sophisticated medical simulation mannequins, instructors can now remotely make inputs that require trainees to reassess the patient and respond to rapidly changing medical conditions. 

Medical technology, including medical simulation mannequins, has improved dramatically over the last few years, Sandoval said. “We are using technology more now than in the past to train corpsmen,” he added. “I like that!  It exposes us to conditions we may have never seen before.”

DHA plans to provide more opportunities to showcase emerging medical technology at events like the modeling and simulation expo.

“We’re excited for the creation of new capabilities that we need to ensure our soldiers, sailors, and airmen are ready to go downrange and do the hard work that they do in saving lives,” Kress said.

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