App Connects Medical Experts

From Soldier Magazine, October 2020.

By Robin Hill

Trials of a specialist communications app allowing the Army’s front-line health professionals to stay in touch with top-level support have been showing promising results. Combat medical technicians say Pando – which can be downloaded onto mobile devices – gives them rapid access to back-up from anywhere in the world. 

Underpinned by industrial-grade security, the specialist app allows sensitive files such as X-rays or patient notes to be transferred between clinicians. Specialists can then offer a view on the course of action required. 

Designed by civilian doctors, it is now used by more than 60,000 NHS staff at 300 hospitals. Combat medical technician Cpl Tom Skelton (RAMC) said Pando had proved impressive when he trialled it for the first time on a counter-poaching deployment to Malawi. 

The NCO told Soldier:

“Essentially it gives you an opportunity to ask for help from your base or further afield. “It can help with decision making, such as determining if a patient needs a medical evacuation or whether they can be better treated on location. “It proved to be an asset during the tour with 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles as some of the areas in which we found ourselves operating were very remote.” 

Senior officers are equally impressed with Pando and the system is being trialled as part of Project Lara, which is investigating a wide range of so-called telemedicine technologies. Clinicians are also examining how vital signs can be monitored remotely – such as en route to hospital – and even augmented reality kit for surgeons.

Anaesthetist Lt Col Oli Bartels (RAMC) – who has been leading the project – said the advances in communications technology could prove to be game-changing. “There is a US military phrase – ‘chasing the sun’ – which means you can go to whichever expert in the world that is awake and available,” he said.

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