Datalinks flight helps test mobile health monitor

  • Published
  • By Samuel King Jr.

A 96th Test Wing unit recently helped test a mobile health-monitoring system for COVID-19 patients.

The 46th Test Squadron’s Datalinks Test Flight tested the Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit or BATDOK here April 6-9. 

The goal of the initial testing in March was to determine the system’s medical treatment capability for para-rescue Airmen. The Airmen, seeing the system’s benefits, suggested BATDOK as an aid in the COVID-19 response to the Air Force Surgeon General’s office. 

The BATDOK is a smart phone-like device that connects to a variety of medical sensors that measures a patient’s vital signs such as heart and respiratory rates as well as blood oxygen saturation. The device can track up to 24 patients with real-time monitoring of their oxygen saturation and pulse.

A sensor embedded in the oxygen meter on the patient’s finger gathers the data and continuously sends it to the device kept with the healthcare provider.

The technology is an app within the Special Warfare Assault Kit or SWAK. The SWAK is a system of systems located on the device that special operators use to conduct specific missions associated with their career field.

When the new testing began in April, the 46th TS engineers with the USAF Special Warfare Program Office and Air Force Research Lab's 711th Human Performance Wing developed an evaluation test based on their previous testing and user evaluations.

“Using our wireless communications test capabilities, my team was able to rapidly evaluate the BATDOK capability to ensure it was ready for use by healthcare professionals,” said Capt. Andrew Rexford, Datalinks flight commander.

This was accomplished by operational testers gauging the suitability and effectiveness, and the Datalinks personnel tested system utility, interoperability, performance, standards and other written requirements.  This combination allowed the team to provide an accurate assessment of the BATDOK system’s capabilities with only a week of testing.

The success of the test resulted in the phased use of BATDOK by 88th Medical Group employees in the hospital at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

The first phase involved comparing data of a patient using both traditional methods and BATDOK. The time required for each phase is unknown, but each phase increased patients and providers.

The ability to monitor multiple patients remotely cuts down on direct contact and thus the need and time required to change out personal protective equipment for individual patient checks, according to Dr. Roger Shih, WPMC internal medicine director.

For this system and its new use, testing on two fronts will continue.  The 46th TS and other test units will carry on the evaluation of BATDOK for its uses within the para-rescue career field.

“I was pleased to be given the opportunity to test BATDOK and I’m proud we could contribute in some way, said Brian Lowmiller, 46th TS lead engineer for the testing.  “I believe BATDOK has much to offer USAF para-rescue community and we will continue test efforts as the capability continues to mature.”

AFRL's Gina Marie Giardina contributed to this article.