|NATO medical professionals met in Istanbul, Turkey 12-15 April 2010, for the NATO Medical Conference to discuss ways to improve information management.
More than 60 military medical professionals from across NATO and NATO mission-contributing nations joined together in Istanbul, Turkey for the bi annual NATO Medical Conference (NOMC) this week. Although the conference location and focus changes - as determined by the Multinational Medical Management Steering Group - the main objective to share ideas and discuss medical concerns remains a constant. This year's event focused on medical information management and communication, with participants sharing experience gleaned on a multitude of operations and focus groups diving deep into particular aspects of the issue. NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Turkey provided infrastructure support and Allied Command Operations (ACO) took the lead in planning and organising the conference agenda.
ACO Medical Advisor, Brig. Robin Cordell says, "There is a considerable amount of information out there and what we're trying to do is narrow down that which we really need so that we can provide the best possible care for our people out in harm's way. Within ACO, we're focused on what the needs are for the ongoing operations and those that could perhaps occur that would require the NATO Response Force, but our colleagues at Allied Command Transformation (ACT) know what other challenges we might meet. Between us, we have an idea what we need to discuss at these conferences, but there may be issues we're not aware of."
The United States Joint Staff Surgeon presented information regarding the management of concussion and traumatic brain injuries in the field and the Canadian Navy addressed lessons learned from their recent mission in Haiti.
Medical Logistics Planner for the African Union Mission, Lt. Col. Zuberi Muvunyi, missed opportunities to attend previous conferences and was excited to travel from Africa to Turkey and have the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from the group's collective experience. "Today we are discussing medical information management. This is the biggest challenge we have at the African Union because we don't have yet an instrument, a tool, which will allow us to patient track. We don't have a system to follow up medical reports and we would also like to know how to prepare our forces and keep records - pre deployment, during the mission, and even after the mission." After presenting his issue to conference attendees, Muvunyi joined his assigned working group.
Because military medicine has such a broad scope, ACO wanted to discuss information management from a strategic, operational, and tactical perspective. According to the ACT Medical Advisor, RAdm. Michael Mittleman, "We looked at each one of the areas where people were working and based on that and based on the expertise we knew they had, we placed them into each one of the groups. For instance, I am chairing the strategic group....everyone that is in that group works at a headquarters command level so they're looking at strategy. We also mixed it up in the sense that we threw in some interactors into each one of the groups. For instance in my group, there are some operational folks...because we wanted to make sure we kept the discussion focused on the task at hand. 'I'm not getting into your area. You're not getting into my area' type of thing. And it's working out pretty well." Muvunyi, who usually works at the strategic and operational level, was assigned to the tactical working group. "I come here with fresh experience regarding our African Union Mission in Somalia. We have a peace keeping mission going on now. We have some challenges, but the situation looks like the same in Afghanistan. A focus of this meeting was to share lessons learned and best practices and I think I brought something additional to the success of this conference. I am the first African medical planner to attend this kind of meeting. I hope I am not the last."
When asked if non medical military personnel will see the effects of this conference, Cordell says, "I would hope that they'd see it in a number of ways even though the main theme is defining our information requirements, what we're also doing is taking our experience of operations now, looking at what has gone really well so that we can share that practice... then we'll see it across all our operations not just in Afghanistan, but in Kosovo and maritime operations. Hopefully they'll see improvements in practice and continual improvement in the way health care is delivered in operations."