I’ve always found it paradoxical that incredibly high tech organizations like the Department of Defense and government space agencies seem to lag far behind in common mass technologies. If you’ve ever flown in an F-16 and seen their cockpit displays, you know what I mean. Of course, this makes sense when considering these organizations’ need for bulletproof cyber security combined with budget constraints and a bureaucratic acquisitions process.
Sometimes motivated individuals, however, can circumvent these barriers to create value in new and interesting ways. This was the vision I had for Go Flight Medicine several years ago as an active duty flight surgeon stationed abroad. I recognized a gap in online resources/education for aerospace medicine doctors and enthusiasts. Capt Colby Uptegraft has done similar by creating a medical standards iOS application.
Recently I was talking with fellow flight doc, Col Sanjay ‘Swipe’ Gogate, who introduced me to a new iOS (iPhone) smart phone app simply called “Med Standards”. I immediately downloaded the application and have been using it frequently. It contains all of the USAF medical standards as well as other important ‘need-to-know’ regulations for any USAF flight surgeon. It also includes most medical standards for the US Navy and US Army. Upon some further investigation into the app’s origins, I discovered it was created by former USAF flight doc, Capt (Doctor) Colby Uptegraft, who is currently doing a fellowship in medical informatics (surprise surprise). I reached out to Colby, who readily provided me a short summary of the history and future vision for his smart phone application.
Download the ‘Med Standards’ App for your iPhone now: CLICK HERE!
Capt Colby Uptegraft:
“Med Standards was born out of frustration; frustration over the disparate medical standards of the Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as the lack of any single clearinghouse to find them. Although I had zero programming experience in 2015 when I created the app, I had recently transitioned out of a general surgery internship and into a flight medicine billet with considerably more free time. I used this time to learn how to create an app. Luckily, Apple had just created a new native iOS programming language called Swift so I watched a few educational videos through Udemy and started coding. Several months (and countless headbanging) later, Med Standards v1.0 launched on the App Store!
Currently, I’ve been out of the flight medicine world for over two years, but I try to push updates every 4-6 weeks. ‘Thank you’ to everyone that has sent me recommendations and feedback. I wish I had time to incorporate most of them. The most common question I get pertains to interest in an Android version. Unfortunately, there is currently no Android version, but the USAFSAM might sponsor a conversion…key word might.
The app in its current state is not ideal; it essentially compiles a bunch of PDF documents. Ideally, a user would enter basic patient demographic, occupational, or diagnostic information, and the app would list all relevant data points (disqualifying condition or not, estimated down time, profile recommendations, waiver criteria, waiver success rate, etc). This vision is outside my current skillset, which is why I chose to pursue a fellowship in clinical informatics. So more to come there.
Digital technology that works for us rather than against us in the medical world is hard to find. How many instances of profanity have DoD medical systems (AHLTA, CHCS, Essentris, AIMWTS, ASIMS, MODS…need I go on?) provoked across the Military Health System? You certainly wouldn’t want to be sitting next to your mother when an AHLTA Tier 1 error pops up. And news flash, don’t rely on MHS Genesis to remedy many of our problems, particularly regarding medical readiness and aerospace medicine. Genesis, essentially, is a commercial off-the-shelf EHR. And EHR vendors do not have experience or pre-built solutions in this space. Adapting modern IT capabilities and technology to the unique needs of military and aerospace medicine is a colossal need, and we have a growing demand for more informatics experts that understand the readiness mission and the needs of our unique subpopulations to bridge the gap. Essentially, we need more individuals to join the sub-discipline of Medical Readiness Informatics. Anyone interested?”
The contents, views, or opinions expressed in this publication or presentation are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official policy of the Department of Defense, or Departments of the Army, Navy, or Air Force. Mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
Capt (Dr) Colby Uptegraft is a USAF Captain and current clinical informatics fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. For anyone interested in assisting Colby in medical informatics projects or just interested in doing a fellowship in that discipline, he can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org