Regional Health Command Europe (RHCE) along with Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) hosted a Virtual Health Presenters Course for service members and civilians from across the European region.

Virtual Health (VH) is the use of electronic information, imaging and communication technologies to provide and support healthcare when distance separates the patient and the provider.

The semi-annual presenters training, which is targeted to new VH presenters, provides an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of VH in addition to hands-on training with the VH tools. A VH presenter is a caregiver who facilitates the VH encounter between the patient and physician.

Ron Keen, RHCE VH Chief, said that as VH was growing across Europe, it was quickly realized that a dedicated presenter, located with the patient, was the catalyst to help grow virtual health."These professionals prepare prior to the encounter, ensuring all forms, labs, x-rays and/or EKG are completed," said Keen. "On the day of the appointment, the presenter checks the patient in, completes vital signs and uses the tools available with the virtual health cart to 'present' the patient to the provider."

The VH cart includes a monitor, which displays the provider a camera, which captures the patient; and various peripheral devices which include an otoscope, a high-definition examination camera and a stethoscope device. Combined, all of this equipment allows the provider to get a full exam of a patient.

This iteration of the presenters course saw Air Force, Navy and Army representatives from Italy, Spain, England, Bahrain and Germany.

The presenters course also gave participants an opportunity to hear from the providers they could eventually work with, helping them to have a better understanding of how they can support the provider in ensuring the patient gets the care they need.

VH presenters work in a wide range of settings, including aid stations, remote clinics and other fixed facilities where diverse specialty care is unavailable. Through the Telehealth in a Bag program, the VH team is able to connect service members who are deployed in Poland to care elsewhere in Europe or back at their home station. Additionally, in-home VH has been used throughout Europe to connect patients to their provider from the comfort of their home through the web camera on their personal computer.

"Our soldiers need to be medically ready," Keen said. "Virtual health is a force multiplier; it eliminates the need for soldiers to leave their duty station for multiple days and travel to LRMC or another clinic for what may only be a 20 -30 minute appointment."

Today, almost every medical and surgical specialty at LRMC is involved and using VH.