Health and morbidity reporting has been an important feature of the historical assessment of military campaigns from times of antiquity. Most of these reports have concentrated on hospital admission rates and mortality. In 1994 the British Army introduced a primary care health surveillance reporting system called J94. This provided the first opportunity for the systematic capture and analysis of morbidity data that allowed the identification of disease trends and the audit of remedial action. In parallel with the developments made by the military in the field of health surveillance, a number of initiatives in the NHS tried to develop real time surveillance systems with differing degrees of success.
This paper reviews the developments made by military and civilian programs, identifies the problems that have been faced, areas where success has been achieved and the issues that will have to be considered as we prepare for the introduction of the next generation of IT based medical information systems into the military.
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