Health Technology Innovation Center (HTIC)

Virtual Medical Concierge Application Completes SBIR Phase II Implementation at Walter Reed

June 29, 2018  |  Download PDF

mCare on a mobile phone

The Virtual Medical Concierge Application (aka “LASSIE”), previously detailed in the September 2017 TATRC Times Newsletter, Volume 3, Quarter 4 edition, completed its prototype roll-out and advanced concept demonstration at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) on 28 February 2018. The LASSIE mobile application, developed by Heron Systems, Inc. using Defense Health Agency (DHA) Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II funds, is a near-production ready prototype that provides WRNMMC patients, staff, and visitors the ability to navigate the complex WRNMMC outpatient facility using their personal Apple or Android phones. Over 300 American Red Cross volunteers and salaried “Blue Coat” patient relations representatives evaluated the prototype and made salient recommendations for improvements.

LASSIE’s users are provided with a map and text or voice-based turn-by-turn directions to find their way throughout the facility. Heron Systems installed over 300 Low Energy Bluetooth Beacons in the WRNMMC outpatient and ancillary service areas. The Bluetooth Beacons work with the users’ mobile phones to provide navigational support. This capability has been particularly useful during WRNMMC’s ongoing renovation. At present, the Virtual Medical Concierge application is not connected to the .mil network or any Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems, and only provides user way-finding. Future iterations of the project, if funded, would integrate the Virtual Medical Concierge Application with WRNMMC’s scheduling and EHR systems, to provide true context-sensitive, location aware information. For example, a patient might be walking by the pharmacy, and the application would remind the patient to pick up any refills required. Or the application could alert the user that their clinician is running late and direct the patient to a nearby coffee shop. LASSIE could also notify all patients over 50 that the new shingles vaccine has arrived and direct them to the vaccine clinic. Diabetic patients entering the chow hall could be directed towards healthy nutrition choices. Secondary benefits of the technology include the ability to track small items and equipment using Bluetooth tags.

The Virtual Medical Concierge concept was conceived five years ago by Captain Kevin Dorrance, MC, USN, who was head of the WRNMMC Medical Home. Mr. Robert Connors, formerly of TATRC’s Health Technology Innovation Center (HTIC), wrote the SBIR topic and supported Ms. Ollie Gray, HTIC’s Lab Manager, in managing the project. Mr. Connors spearheaded and facilitated communications between Mr. Brett Darcey, Heron Systems, Inc. Vice President, and WRNMMC’s Director for Administration; Director for Clinical Operations; Facility Management, Information Management; Physical Security; and Public Affairs, to make the idea a reality. Key representatives who were instrumental at WRNMMC included Captain Kevin Dorrance, MC, USN; LTC Kenny Wells, MSC, USA, LCDR Jacqueline Anderson, MSC, USN, Ms. Angela Kinart; Ms. Tonya Reeder; Mr. Jose Izquierdo; CDR Jason Shroeder, MC, USN, and Ms. Staci Harrison. Ms. Regina Julian, Chief, Patient Centered Medical Home Primary Care at the DHA; Mr. Marc Goodge, Chief Technology Officer, DHA; and CDR Mark Becker, MSC, USN, Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, have all expressed great interest in the project.

On 5 March Mr. Darcey, briefed the WRNMMC Deputy Directors who were favorably impressed, and a decision by the WRNMMC Board of Directors on the future of the project is pending. Part of the decision will involve determining which Director at WRNMMC should lead further implementation with patients, visitors, and staff. San Antonio Medical Center and several other military medical treatment facilities are interested in implementing the application in their hospitals. Heron Systems, Inc. intends to submit follow-on SBIR Phase I and Phase II Enhancement proposals to continue to advance the project towards full commercialization.

Mr. Connors, who helped implement the project at WRNMMC, stated, “the Virtual Medical Concierge Application truly enhances and improves the consumer experience at WRNMMC… As a Navy retiree, I have been receiving my care at WRNMMC for over 20 years and thought I knew how to navigate the facility efficiently. But with all of the new construction, even I was beginning to make navigation mistakes and found myself lost a few times. LASSIE has been my savior in a couple of cases in helping me find the quickest route to my clinic destination!”  

This article was published in the June 2018 issue of the TATRC Times.