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WASHINGTON — During the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. military medical system sent 60 percent of its patients to the wrong facilities, and lost track of nearly 50 percent being relocated from one facility to another.

That system wasn’t acceptable, and the Defense Department set out to develop a system to keep tabs on 100 percent of patients, 100 percent of the time, said Air Force Lt. Col. James Baxter.

They have it.

In the mid-1990s, officials started work on a computerized tracking system called TRAC2ES, or Transportation Command Regulating Command and Control Evacuation System. It was fielded for the first time in July 2001 to 300 U.S. military facilities worldwide, said Baxter, the program’s functional manager.

TRAC2ES serves as a “one-stop shop for patient movement,” Baxter said Tuesday at a six-day conference sponsored by Tricare, the military’s health care provider.

The program is managed by the U.S. Transportation Command and headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

The global computerized system is accessible by all services and not only tracks patient movement, but can access what types of specialized services are offered at various military medical treatment facilities, how many beds are available, which is the best mode of transporting a patient between facilities, Baxter said.

The 10-year price tag, which began with the development phase in 1998, is $135 million, he said.

Part of the program includes stationing permanent, round-the-clock centers at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Yokota Air Base, Japan, to process military patients needing transfers from one medical facility to another, both during peace and wartime, Baxter said.

“TRAC2ES is the same system, during peace or war, offering medical transport treatment whether deployed or fixed,” he told an audience of roughly 100 military medical personnel attending the health-care conference, which included lectures on financial, clinical, technological and communication practices within Tricare and the military health system.

Military experts too are working with officials from the Department of Homeland Security to develop plans to share information and medical treatment with civilian and VA hospitals in the event of a catastrophe, he said.


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