Health IT Helps Fight the War at Home

Staff Writer | Healthcare IT News | August 3, 2012

With the Iraq War officially over and Afghanistan scheduled to draw down by 2014, and with scores of service members now returning home, an array of innovative public- and private-sector health IT initiatives – EHRs and PHRs, telerehabilitation and telepsychiatry, mobile health and wellness apps, even virtual reality and video games – are at work trying to make that "better way" happen, seeking to improve quality and, especially, access to care.

Nearly 2 million service members have deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq (or both) since 2001. Approximately 20 percent of those who return home will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, and some 320,000 of them have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to the RAND Corporation.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 90 percent of seriously wounded military service members are surviving. Fifty-four percent of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans are getting care from VA – compared to just 40 percent after World War II. The demographics of this generation of warriors are striking. Compared to, say, Vietnam, where the draft was in place, the all-volunteer military has led to some skewed numbers with regard to income and geography...