Mobile clinics bring health tech to veterans
- By Derek Major
- Jul 15, 2015
The state of healthcare for veterans will never be ideal, despite the best intentions, according to Frank Campanaro, CEO of TrillaMed, because ill and aging patients can’t always get to Veterans Affairs facilities.
“The VA has enough hospital infrastructure and enough clinicians to serve veterans across the country,” Campanaro said in a telephone interview. “What it doesn’t have is the right people in the right place at the right time. There are too many people at the Los Angeles hospital because it’s a crowded city; there’s more capacity in Montana, but people may live 100 miles away.”
So if the patients can’t get to a hospital, then maybe the services can come to them -- through mobile clinics that can help the VA provide medical and wellness care to rural, Native American, homeless, female and other veterans in need. TrillMed, a federal hospital supply company, teamed up DMS Health Technologies, which provides healthcare equipment, to build hospital-grade 18-wheelers, known as concept trucks, that can be customized to suit the medical mission. Outfitted with medical equipment, they can directly connect into a hospital’s network or transmit data wirelessly if it’s in a rural area.
“We’re basically a plug-and-play application; we pull up to the facility – or transmit remotely – and connect directly into their system,” said Theresa Stewart, executive vice president of DMS Health Technologies. “We can work directly with the hospital to send records back and forth securely, and put patients face-to-face with their doctors.”
The clinics can be made to fit high-end diagnostic equipment, function as a lab, act as a counselor’s office for therapy sessions or even allow homeless veterans to take showers, get a haircut, and be examined by a dentist.
According to Campanaro, many VA hospitals have outdated equipment, and were not built to handle today’s large number of veterans. The concept trucks can supplement a facility’s equipment.
“When VA hospitals were built, there were far fewer veterans than today, most of whom were men,” Campanaro said. “In the 21st century, these facilities must be provided with new resources to address today’s healthcare challenges, gender-specific services and a more diverse population than in years past.”
TrillaMed and DMS have 120 concept trucks across the United States and Canada.
Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.