On a spring day at Lake Blackshear at the Global Partnership for Telehealth annual GA conference, I heard one of the most inspirational keynote speeches I’ve ever heard about my telehealth profession. Dressed in full uniform, LTC(R) Daniel R. Brewer delivered the moving address, “A Soldier’s Perspective on Healthcare.” Along with a series of impactful pictures, Brewer’s presentation about the intersection of telehealth and war unfolded. The audience was spellbound.
LTC Brewer served several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and had the opportunity to work with Generals David H. Petraeus and James N. Mattis. Brewer solved environmental problems we often see or associate with war, when we are viewing from afar. However, burn pits, hazardous waste, medical waste, oil spills and improper water disposals were issues that needed his solutions. But then he was injured.
LTC Brewer clearly outlined for us from his first-hand perspective, how once a soldier is injured, the task at hand quickly focuses on staying alive. Access to immediate healthcare is essential and that’s what telehealth provides. Healthcare access = ALIVE. LTC Brewer pointed out that he and many other soldiers may not be here today if not for the remote care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Telehealth is one of the rare success stories of war. The U.S. military has been a leader in telemedicine for decades, employing technologies ranging from pictures from the battlefield, to direct emergency treatment, to mental telehealth visits for PTSD once vets are home. Telehealth at any point, delivered to an injured soldier, improves healthcare accessibility.
The military is also using new technologies, including EEG devices, to measure concussion effects and the extent of brain injuries. They lead in telemedicine in so many ways and the U.S. VA system is one of the world leaders in the use, scope and scalability of telehealth during deployment, active duty and once our soldiers are home.
At the end of his speech, LTC Brewer challenged the audience to be strong telehealth “enablers,” in the positive sense of helping make things happen! He was the biggest enabler of all of us that day and we were proud of acknowledge him with a standing ovation.
In our business, we save high risk moms’ and babies’ lives often via telehealth. But from the audience that day, I had the opportunity to see how telehealth also prevents death and injury from a different perspective. It made me proud to be in the business of telehealth and so proud of our U.S. military taking care of their own, when the system is often criticized.
As we celebrate our freedom this week, Women’s Telehealth once again salutes LTC Brewer for sharing his amazing story!
~Tanya Mack, President