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By J.D. Levite, Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs
/ Published October 31, 2016
Air Force Medical Home Starts With Trust.
Col. Cheryl Lowry, Director of Healthcare Operations for the Air Force Medical Support Agency, said AFMH is all about taking care of whatever the patient needs, from prompt appointments to communicating with specialists thousands of miles away.
“I think going to medical is often seen as one of those additional things you just have to do,” Lowry said. “But we want Airmen to understand how we can help make their quality of life better. We can help them live a longer, more productive life.”
Air Force Medical Home is one of the key strategic focus areas for the Air Force Surgeon General, and that’s because AFMH means more than just having a place to go for annual checkups and physicals. It means building an organization that makes fewer mistakes, adapts to new techniques and technologies, and establishes trust.
“We want to be able to take care of our patients. We want them to want to come back to us,” Lowry said. “We need them for our own medical readiness and building the skillsets we need to deploy, but we also need to have a relationship with them so they trust us.”
One way the concept of AFMH is improving the Air Force Medical System is through fulfilling the needs of individual locations. A base in Texas will have a lot more issues with heat illness than a base in Alaska. A base with rapidly deploying special operations teams will have a completely different set of needs than a base focused on classroom training. AFMH wants to add an individualized level of care based on what the population at the base level needs access to.
“Different bases have different nuances,” Lowry said. “We all still need healthcare but due to mission differences between bases you’ll see injury and illness patterns that vary quite a bit.”
New technology and new techniques are also important to AFMH. Lowry said radiology is a good example of how technology is improving the medical care experience. Where before getting an X-Ray scanned and diagnosed by a radiologist could often leave the patient waiting alone in a room and delay the doctor’s efficiency in seeing others, now a doctor can have scans confirmed without ever leaving his office. It doesn’t just make appointments move along faster, it creates a better environment for everyone.
Dermatologists, mental health providers and health coaches are other examples of specialists that may not be readily available everywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, but thanks to modern technology they could be. One goal for AFMH is overcoming barriers to better healthcare.