Bringing Healthcare to the Frontlines

May 20, 2014

East Carolina University and Lepton Global Solutions Team Up for Veterans

Lepton Global Solutions has partnered with East Carolina University to bring world-class telemedicine care to our nation’s veterans via satellite communications. Powered by Lepton’s comprehensive satellite network, the ECU Telemedicine/Outreach Van “Rover” travels throughout coastal North Carolina to provide care to veterans who live too far from care facilities or who are unable to access care, often as a result of their service disabilities. By providing mobile care, ECU can ensure that patients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other service-related conditions do not fall through the cracks. Upon the success of the pilot program, ECU hopes to expand this offering on a broader scale in coming years.

Program Overview: Operation Reentry North Carolina

Operation Reentry North Carolina: Resiliency and Reintegration through Technology (ORNC: R&R) is a research program under Operation Reentry North Carolina, a national research support organization funded by the Department of Defense and designed to strengthen the resiliency of and facilitate the reintegration of military veterans through creative and innovative uses of technology. ORNC: R&R focuses on veterans struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health issues who are homeless or at-risk for homelessness. The program relies heavily on telemedicine technology to provide healthcare for its target patients, many of whom are unable to access conventional healthcare facilities.

Lepton Global Solutions supports the program by providing satellite communications equipment and service that enables voice, video, and data on the van. The rural nature of the program’s mission presents connectivity challenges that require satellite technology. The satellite link provides critical access for the program’s patients to ECU physicians, psychiatrists, and medical testing devices.

After six weeks of operations, the program has engaged more than 21 homeless veterans, with several currently receiving clinical services. The overall scope of the program includes $276,277 of funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, with second and third year funding pending success of the program.

Veterans: An At-risk Population

Military veterans are at a significantly higher risk for substance abuse and mental health disorders than the civilian population. This risk is compounded by the facts that veterans have a significantly greater chance of experiencing a homeless episode, are more likely to experience these issues when representing minority sub-populations, and are unlikely or unable to seek treatment due to barriers such as stigma and residency in rural areas.

Eastern North Carolina is an epicenter for these issues. With six major military installations located in four eastern NC counties, approximately 100,000 veterans call Eastern North Carolina home. This rural region is challenged by poverty, unemployment, and limited treatment resources. ORNC: R&R combats the cumulative effects weighing on veterans’ mental health in this region with steps that include:

  • Deployment of a telemedicine van in eastern NC to conduct mobile outreach to homeless or at-risk veterans
  • Provision of state-of-the-art interventions via telehealth, web- and application-based mediums
  • Coordination of healthcare services with the Veterans Administration and local, community-based treatment providers and resources.

Lepton Global Solutions supports ORNC: R&R in these efforts by enabling internet-based activity during treatment sessions with veterans on the mobile van. The program’s objectives include increasing the number of veterans who access medical, psychiatric, and behavioral health services, reducing homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health disorders among veterans, and increasing social and vocational functioning in patients.

A recent report from Gloria Jones, Program Manager at the ECU Telemedicine Center, outlines the project’s milestones to date since Lepton’s installation and service activation in December 2012. The full report notes that successful testing during February and March by the Project Manager and ECU Chair of the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies in and around Eastern North Carolina showed that the satellite link provides a HIPAA-compliant environment for diagnostic quality telemedicine encounters, even during severe weather conditions. ORNC: R&R researchers also installed a video conference unit on a mobile cart to be shared among psychiatrists located within the ECU Department of Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic. The unit’s mobility allows for multiple psychiatrists to provide immediate services from their desks, saving time and enabling an increased number of encounters. To further enhance the program’s telemedicine capabilities, they have procured advanced communications equipment that will permit telemedicine encounters, physician to physician collaboration, educational teaching and training, as well as medically sensitive administrative encounters in a large conference room within the ECU Department of Psychiatry.

About Lepton Global Solutions

Lepton Global Solutions is honored to work with East Carolina University on such a novel approach to veteran healthcare. Created in response to a growing need for lightweight, tactical VSAT communications for the US Special Forces, Lepton has leveraged its flexible global network to grow and support commercial sector applications. We specialize in engineering and delivering flexible satellite communications solutions and designing end-to-end, turnkey solutions tailored to exact customer needs, from equipment installation to 24/7/365 technical support. Our global service offerings include short-term contracts, occasional-use bandwidth, contended networks, internal contention control, and private, dedicated circuits. For more information about how ECU and Lepton Global Solutions continue to improve veteran care or to find out more about our offerings, please contact info@lepton.alasit

Contact Operation ReEntry North Carolina

For contact information and to learn more about ORNC and the Resiliency and Reintegration Program, please visit www.OperationReentry.org