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LANDSTUHL, Germany — Commanders and medical personnel worldwide will soon be able to check the status of patients from Iraq and Afghanistan with little more than a few computer keystrokes.

A new online tool called the Joint Patient Tracking Application allows users “from theater to White House” to get real-time updates on the status of sick and injured troops as they move through the medical system, said Col. Richard Jordan, deputy commander for outlying clinics at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

For sick or wounded troops, the new system means shorter waits for appointments and a smoother transition in and out of medical facilities, Jordan said. Before they even get to the hospital, staff will know where patients will need a bed, how long they’ll stay and even whether they’ll need a new uniform when they arrive.

Landstuhl computer experts developed the tracking system to streamline the overburdened Deployed Warrior Medical Management Center, which tracks wounded patients from downrange entering and leaving the Army hospital. The Department of Defense adopted the $350,000 system military-wide on Nov. 29.

The JPTA updates the hospital’s antiquated tracking system, which bowed under the pressure of thousands of new patients from the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

Since Operation Iraqi Freedom started in March last year, Landstuhl doctors have treated 18,214 ill and injured troops from Iraq and 3,130 from Afghanistan, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Already in use by some facilities in Kuwait, the JPTA has proved useful to commanders downrange, according to the program’s architect and Landstuhl’s chief of information management, Lt. Col. Mike Fravell.

Fravell told the story of a Special Forces commander stationed in Balad, Iraq, who wanted to know if an injured member of his task force would be returning to the unit. He asked the JPTA to find out.

“Within seconds they were able to see where he is, what room he’s in and what the extent of his injuries are,” Fravell said.

Previously, that kind of search could have taken days or been impossible because patients were being transferred between different facilities and locations, each with its own tracking and processing systems, he said.

Since the war, Landstuhl has moved ambulatory patients to area gyms and barracks to ease overcrowding at the hospital. As of this week, more than 100 patients were staying outside of the hospital.

That had made it nearly impossible to keep updated records on all the troops, Jordan said.

The hospital exhibited a “marked deficiency in our ability to see what was going on with the patients and manage them once they got here,” Jordan said. And, the medical management center was able to respond to only about 1 percent of the patient inquiries it received.

“We needed a Web-based application to streamline the business process,” Fravell said.

The JPTA is being installed in frontline medical facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan now. Major military medical centers in the States get it next.

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