By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class(SW) Todd Hack, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
CORONADO, Calif. – Flight surgeons at Branch Health Clinic Naval Base Coronado (BHC NBC), are currently in the process of integrating a new software system, Aeromedical Electronic Resource Office (AERO), to support combat readiness of aviators, aircrew and other flight status personnel.
“We have a new computer system [AERO] that tracks waivers submissions that is just coming online now,” said Lt. Jason Smith, a flight surgeon assigned to Navy Operational Support Center, North Island. “With the new system, the pilot would be able to be ‘up’ [medically cleared to fly] again and be a useful asset again much, much sooner.”
AERO is being implemented throughout the Navy as the primary method for electronic aeromedical submissions by Naval Aerospace Medical Institute (NAMI) and its parent command Naval Operational Medicine Institute (NOMI) located at Pensacola, Fla.
“What we used to do was submit waivers by mail or fax to NAMI and that turn-around time would take months,” said Smith. “The turn-around time with AERO should be drastically reduced to a couple of weeks to as little as a few days depending on the patient’s medical condition.” AERO is an innovative, intuitive web based program that allows medical personnel (i.e. hospital corpsman and flight surgeons) to input information and test results, make quality assessments, determine aeromedical dispositions and submit flight physicals to NAMI, via the Web.
“The squadrons won’t have as many that are ‘down’ for as long,” said Smith. “If a pilot gets sick and receives a ‘down chit’ he is no longer able to fly until we get a waiver completed. The shortened turn-around time can get that person back into an ‘up’ status much quicker.”
BHC NBC supports 29 active and 18 Reserve squadrons with aviation medical needs.
“The clinic performs more than 7,000 flight physicals a year,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class George Park. “Currently we do flight physicals every year, but only submit [to NAMI] every five years depending on the person’s medical history. With AERO, we can submit each year’s physicals and not just the long-form [five-year] ones to NAMI.”
NAMI receives thousands of physicals a month. In addition to the active duty flight physicals currently in the aviation community, it receives aviation physicals from all Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps units and they must be approved before they are commissioned.
“AERO will be good in saving time for the waiver reviewers,” said Pamela Greuling, AERO user manager at NAMI. “If the physical has something missing, it won't allow the flight surgeon to submit it to us. It will save a lot of paperwork on people’s desks waiting for forms, parts of physicals, etc. that were not included with the physical.”
From a paper-based medical exam and disposition processes to an electronic computerized process, the AERO system is anticipated to reduce costs in excess of 1 million dollars annually.
“AERO is an Army program that we are adopting to improve the outdated process that we currently utilize,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Ben Husinecky, NAMI physical qualifications technician. “The main focus behind the Navy adopting this program is a reduction in turnaround time and human error. I anticipate a major reduction in turnaround time and a 95 percent reduction of human error.”
For more information on BHC NBC or Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit www.navy.mil/local/sd.