New Projects to Accelerate Innovation and Growth in the Biomanufacturing Sector

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of eight projects totaling over $5 million to conduct research and development (R&D) needed to accelerate the US biomanufacturing sector. Part of the Agile BioFoundry (ABF) consortium, these projects will leverage National Laboratory capabilities to address challenges in biomanufacturing.

DOE has selected the following projects: Continue reading

Next Generation CBRN Protective Masks

US Air Force will complete fielding of an improved chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective mask for aircrew on rotary wing aircraft, allowing operational units to achieve full operational capability.

This next-generation mask, also known as the Joint Service Aircrew Mask – Rotary Wing, replaces the Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection system on HH-60G Pave Hawk and UH-1N Huey aircraft.

The new mask provides aircrew vastly improved ocular, percutaneous and respiratory protection and integrates with night vision goggles, requires no aircraft modification, and has joint service commonality, a five-fold increase in fit factor, a six-fold increase in battery life, and a removable faceplate.

In addition, the mask gives aircrew an enhanced field of view so they can better conduct combat missions in a CBRN environment.

“With recent and continuing world events, our nation’s ability to effectively fight and win in an environment that involves weapons of mass destruction has become more and more important,” said Dr. Mohamed Mughal, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s CBRN Defense Systems Branch chief engineer. “So far, the Air Force has already delivered JSAM RW masks to almost a dozen airbases around the world.”

Fielding teams from the joint program executive office for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense and Air Combat Command have trained aircrew flight equipment personnel on sizing, fitting and preventative maintenance checks and services for the JSAM RW mask. They have also trained aircrew in the proper wear and use of the mask. To date, the fielding teams have trained approximately 100 AFE personnel and about 75 aircrew.

“Fielding the new masks is significant because they are replacing equipment that limits the capability of aircrew to perform their mission,” said Lt. Col. William Holl, AFLCMC’s CBRN defense systems materiel leader at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. “The feedback I’m getting from aircrew is that they love the system and are excited about getting this new capability.”

“This next generation mask is a good news story all the way around,” added Mughal. “Most importantly, it provides our warfighter added protections and combat capabilities. But it also highlights the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s mission to partner with organizations outside the Air Force. This joint service program required us to team with our counterparts in the Army, the Navy and the Marines to derive and balance system requirements that met all services’ mission profiles. Despite the challenges, we succeeded. System acquisition truly is a team sport.”

Source: US Air Force

New Synthetic Bones Help Army Scientists Get Closer to New ‘brain’ Defenses

Shock waves from battlefield explosions are invisible threats for U.S. Soldiers and their top-of-the-line combat helmets, but with new studies in synthetic human physiology, researchers are learning how to lessen blast wave effects on the brain.

Exactly how, and to what degree, these waves cause brain damage is what the U.S. Army Research Laboratory scientists and engineers and a group of university partners are trying to answer as part of a multi-year, multi-disciplinary research project.

In a related research project, Army researchers are investigating new material development for helmet padding systems, and from this research, they expect greater insight and innovation in addressing what is likely to be the next big development in head protection: strategies for mitigating the effects of blast.

They’re creating synthetic cranial bones that look and behave like the skulls of 20- and 30-year old Soldiers that will be tested in laboratory experiments that mimic combat-like blast events in hopes of improving military helmet pads, shells, and other protective equipment.

Dr. Thomas Plaisted, materials engineer in the Materials and Manufacturing Science Division at the ARL, said even though synthetic bones are commercially available, they’re used primarily by doctors to practice surgical procedures. But, their design prevents them from “behaving like real human bones when subjected to blast tests.”

“The mechanical properties of the human skull change with age and depend on the health of the individual. Donor skulls that may be available for testing would typically come from older people, and the properties of those skulls can be highly variable and may not have the same response as the average skull of the Army Soldier population,” said Plaisted.

He said this is among the variables that “add uncertainty when trying to evaluate head protection devices, like helmets.”

“So we are developing our own synthetic bone, [and] capturing material and architecture response, specific to the human skull.”

A simulated skull ARL researchers are developing is made of synthetic materials, with the goal of creating a uniform response that is representative of the Soldier population to use in tests to understand how to best protect the head during exposure to blast waves and blunt impact.

“The cranial bones have a highly-graded structure, from a tough outer layer, a spongy inner section, to a more brittle inner layer, which together are responsible for how it responds under impact conditions, he said.

Slice-by-slice images taken from a CT scan help researchers get the geometry and structure of the skull right. ARL composite materials, combined with these images, and 3-D printing technology, produce models of bone-like surrogates that ARL researchers will use to test new helmet padding materials in simulated blast and impact conditions. The goal is to determine how the pads and helmet shell materials protect the head from injury, Plaisted said.

“We are developing new helmet padding materials to improve the impact protection afforded by the Army’s helmets. The helmet can withstand impact at a certain velocity, while protecting the head from accelerations that would lead to injury. In the extreme case, excessive acceleration may lead to skull fracture,” he said.

“We are using computer modeling of head and helmet impacts to understand how tailoring the padding properties can reduce acceleration at various impact locations around the helmet,” Plaisted explained. “Then, those properties are engineered into materials and tested in the laboratory to validate what we are seeing in the computer models. The research is giving insight on optimal material structures and material combinations that achieve increased energy absorption while still being comfortable to wear.”

Earlier this year, ARL evaluated the base material of the synthetic bone by hitting it at a high rate, and comparing the fracture properties to human bones tested by the same technique. They’ve determined it to be a “close match” to human bones, he said.

“Our next step is in determining the limits of resolution we can achieve with the 3-D printing, and how fine the resolution needs to be to capture the properties we are looking for.”

He said he expects to start printing synthetic skulls with 3-D technology by the fall.

“Part of ARL’s mission is to take varying levels of risk in finding state of the art science and developing the technologies that could potentially provide the Soldier with more protection, more capability, or both,” said Dr. Shawn Walsh, who leads ARL’s Agile Manufacturing Technology Team. “What is equally important is that ARL strategically reduce the risk of these new technologies so that centers, such as the Natick [Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center], can begin to think about how they would integrate into a larger Soldier “system.” Many of ARL’s material, processing, and conceptual technologies were transitioned and demonstrated in NSRDEC’s “HEaDS UP” program.”

“[Dr. Plaisted’s] efforts are unique in that he is bringing fundamental material science and modeling to the dual problem of accurately representing biological systems (for example the skull) and coupling this biological model to a materials model to provide better insight on how impulses are transmitted during an impact to the helmet and head. Such insight will lead to new and quantifiably proven methods for reducing the adverse effects of violently applied forces to the head and helmet system,” Walsh said.

The research is also the focus of the latest episode of “Inside the Lab,” an ARL-produced feature news broadcast.

Source : US Army

$7.3 million Contract By Naval Medical Logistics Command

to Provide Research and Development Services for the Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology Department

Leidos, a national security, health and engineering solutions company, was awarded a prime contract, Behavioral Epidemiology Assessment Research (BEAR), by the Naval Medical Logistics Command to provide research services for multiple behavioral health and epidemiology projects that support the Naval Health Research Center’s (NHRC) Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology Department. The single-award cost-plus fixed-fee (CPFF) contract has a one-year base period of performance, four one-year options and a total contract value of approximately $7.3 million, if all options are exercised. Work will be performed primarily in San Diego, Calif.

The NHRC’s Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology Department is dedicated to the study of behavioral trends that impact warfighter readiness. The department examines operationally relevant issues affecting personnel such as combat and operational stress, posttraumatic stress, misconduct, substance use, suicide and career-span health and wellness issues. Under this contract, Leidos will conduct behavioral and epidemiological investigations that address these and other deployment-related health issues. Specific examples of these studies may include determining factors related to the onset of mental disorders in military personnel; mental health surveillance of combat-deployed personnel; assessing the effects of adverse lifestyle behaviors on health, performance, and healthcare costs; and investigating the effects of acute stress on military personnel.

“Finding ways to improve the health and wellness of our military personnel and their families is important to the Nation, which means it’s important to Leidos,” said Steve Comber, President of Leidos Health.  “We are pleased to continue our support of NHRC to help ensure our military is prepared to perform every mission.”

Source : Leidos

Published on ASDNews: Mar 10, 2014

FLIR Awarded US Army Contract Valued at up to $81 M to Support MEDEVAC Operations

FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLIR) announced today that it has been awarded a two year blanket purchase agreement from the U.S. Army to support the MEDEVAC program. The blanket purchase agreement is valued at $81 million and is for the Army MEDEVAC Mission Sensor (MMS) configuration of FLIR’s commercially developed military qualified Talon product, a stabilized 9-inch multi-sensor gimbal system. The Talon MMS will be installed on the Army’s fielded and new MEDEVAC Blackhawk helicopters. An initial delivery order of $19 million was received.

Work under this award is expected to be performed out of FLIR’s facility in Billerica, MA, with shipments under the initial delivery order expected to be completed by 2014.

“To continue to be a key element of the U.S. Army’s MEDEVAC mission is an honor,” said Earl Lewis, President and CEO of FLIR. “Our highly advanced imaging systems enhance the efficient and safe location and transport of injured personnel and medics in the field. We excel at providing our products rapidly and with a very low total cost of ownership, which enables the success of customers such as the Army.”

Source : Flir Systems Inc.

Air Force challenges industry for research in laser medicine

Kristin Galbally-Kinney, Steve Davis, and Terry Rawlins, of Physical Sciences Inc., adjust the excitation source for an argon microplasma laser. Kristin Galbally-Kinney, Steve Davis, and Terry Rawlins, of Physical Sciences Inc., adjust the excitation source for an argon microplasma laser. (Contributed photo)

Kristin Galbally-Kinney, Steve Davis, and Terry Rawlins, of Physical Sciences Inc., adjust the excitation source for an argon microplasma laser.
Kristin Galbally-Kinney, Steve Davis, and Terry Rawlins, of Physical Sciences Inc., adjust the excitation source for an argon microplasma laser. (Contributed photo)

U.S. Air Force researchers are asking commercial companies and universities to join a program aimed at using lasers and other light source technology to develop applications in medicine, photobiology, surgery, and closely related materials sciences for military needs.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) in Arlington, Va., has released a broad-agency announcement (BAA-AFOSR-2013-0002) for the Military Medical Photonics Program to advance the state of the art in medical laser applications for military needs.

Medical laser applications related to combat casualty care and other military medicine are a high priority, Air Force researchers say. The program is open to university-based medical groups, scientific organizations, or commercial companies.

Proposals should describe three-year medical laser research programs to be carried out by interdisciplinary teams of physicians, biomedical scientists, physical scientists, and engineers. Those submitting winning bids may be awarded contracts or research grants.

Electronic medical assets and records reduce delays in treatment and enhance healing.

Battlefield medicine has advanced significantly since the days when surgeons used whiskey as an anesthetic, and in the last year several new technologies have rolled out to deployed soldiers facing physical or psychological disorders. The U.S. Army program responsible for fielding software and the hardware on which it resides is pushing the cutting edge of diagnostics and treatment to the tip of the spear. Personnel hope the effort will save lives and limbs not only by treating injury or illness, but also by keeping troops off the road in war zones.
The Army’s Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) has the service’s Title 10 responsibility to field, sustain and maintain a joint software applications suite for combat medicine. The MC4 is the far-forward Army system used to capture health care information. Applications are developed by the Military Health System and provided to the various military services, which are responsible for placing them into their individual systems. The MC4 integrates the apps into hardware, adding Army-unique systems and apps, and then fields the packages to operational forces. “Army medical units don’t have hardware unless we provide it,” explains Lt. Col. William Geesey, USA, the MC4 product manager.
Since beginning field operations in 2003, the MC4 has enabled the capture of more than 16.5 million electronic patient encounters in combat zones. The system-of-systems also has trained 61,000 medical staff and commanders and fielded 49,000 systems to 750 units with medical personnel. This includes Army National Guard and Reserve units as well as active components in 19 countries.
One of the systems fielded by the MC4 in the last year centers on tele-behavioral health. It leverages commercial technologies available in theater to create a videoteleconference capability that enables mental health providers to conduct private consultations with soldiers at far forward operating bases who otherwise might go untreated. An Army division with as many as 10,000 to 15,000 troops spread over multiple locations may have only one psychiatrist assigned to it, meaning that either that single physician has to travel to all those places to provide treatment, or soldiers have to travel to the doctor’s location. Either way, troops traverse treacherous terrain. Through the videoteleconferences, care can be provided more quickly and safely.
Col. Geesey says that information coming in from the field reports that 70 percent of the doctor-patient interactions resulting from the new technology would never have occurred without it. “When you’re at a forward operating base, you’re not going to get onto a road that’s dangerous or get on an aircraft to go see a psychiatrist who’s far away,” he states. With the system, soldiers can visit their local medical facility and have a consult with a mental health provider in another place.
Also completed in 2011, the MC4 fielded a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) documentation capability and assessment tool. When a solider is exposed to an improvised explosive device (IED), a medical provider can administer a battery of tests to determine injuries. The results are documented in the electronic record that is at the heart of the MC4. Through this digital trail, all the medical care soldiers receive from the time they enter service through the rest of their lives is captured in one database accessible by military and Veterans Affairs Department (VA) health care providers. The result is faster diagnosis and treatment as well as an elimination of repeated tests or procedures. With the mTBI information recorded, medical practitioners can access the data if a soldier affected by a blast develops problems in the future.
In addition to its immediate application, the mTBI tool also helps feed research and development efforts by providing data on thousands of soldiers affected by IEDs. “You can use that for developing treatments and also materiel solutions,” Col. Geesey says. Overall, he explains, MC4 systems are designed to focus comprehensively on the entire soldier. The mTBI and telehealth initiatives have a focus on the effects of IEDs on the human body, responding to a number of studies showing a correlation between higher incidences of IED exposure and elevated depression rates.
Another recent MC4 update involved the fielding of a medical logistics capability to Army combat support hospitals for the first time. A hospital at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, became the premier facility in Southwest Asia to employ this Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support system, which serves as an automated medical logistics inventory management and property accountability tool. The fielding team consisted of MC4 and 6th Medical Logistics Management Center personnel.
The MC4 is interested in taking advantage of the many Army and personal technologies available in the field and is in the midst of an initiative to make online training courses available on smart devices. The content includes interactive video and constantly updated documentation. Though the Army is still in the process of officially acquiring and fielding smart devices to soldiers, Col. Geesey explains that by his estimation based on personal observations and the observations of others who have deployed, the vast majority of soldiers carry their own laptops and smartphones in theater. Through these, they can access the latest MC4 resources. The initial version of the MC4 guide was available only in a PDF format accessible on computers via Army Knowledge Online.

Lt. Col. T. Sloane Guy IV, USA (right), chief of surgery with the 47th Combat Support Hospital, Mosul, Iraq, reviews an image of a patient’s chest with specialists located at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The operation showcased technology that connects deployed medics with experts back in the United States to provide the best possible medical care in the field.
Moving forward, the MC4 plans to take the Army’s tele-behavioral health program and expand it to demonstrate a broader telehealth capability. During the next several Network Integration Evaluation events—the Army’s new method for evaluating and more rapidly fielding necessary technology assets into the field—MC4 personnel are scheduled to demonstrate that the concept can help medical specialists address the concerns of forward-deployed soldiers who lack access to such expertise at their locations. “The idea is to reduce the amount of time soldiers have to travel or take to be evaluated,” Col. Geesey explains.
Already, the MC4 system was instrumental in a one-in-a-million surgery that helped an Iraqi receive the medical assistance he required. The surgeon in theater was able to consult via a videoteleconference with a specialist at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas to conduct the procedure and save the man’s life. This telesurgery mentor initiative was led by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technical Research Center.
Col. Geesey says the MC4’s telehealth efforts eventually could have applications across the Army, but for now the work is focused on units that have the fewest medical providers and specialists assigned to them. “MC4 really offers a tool that enables a provider to deliver better health care,” he explains. “It’s not a clinically invasive device that heals soldiers. What we primarily do is leverage emerging commercial technologies to support the deployed service member.” This support includes laboratory results, pharmaceuticals and X-rays. Keeping all the information collected electronically means that in emergency situations, personnel do not have to worry about sending the right paperwork with patients, and it eliminates situations where information may arrive too late or not at all.
Having information stored and available electronically throughout soldiers’ lifetimes creates advantages in non-emergency situations as well in immediate life-or-death incidents. For example, a soldier who breaks his ankle while in service may require VA compensation for problems the injury causes later in life. With the captured information, everyone can validate a claim more easily. Access to the information also helps protect troops from overexposure to radiation because of unnecessary X-rays and informs doctors about how often patients have been seen for certain complaints regardless of where in the military they sought care or who provided it.
In addition, the technology can capture what vaccines and medicines soldiers received in theater and how those could be affecting them now. With enough statistics like those, researchers could make links between exposures and conditions. “For uniformed troops, it helps increase continuity of care,” Col. Geesey explains. “It allows [medical providers] to see all of soldiers’ prior medical history and have a better picture of what potentially is impacting them.”
The MC4 soon could have even more pieces of data to manage if MRI devices are fielded in theater. Though the office is not responsible for moving the devices to forward locations, it would serve as the information technology enabler for synching the medical images from the machines with soldiers’ electronic medical records.
The medical systems program has an initiative underway to integrate its technology into signal networks in theater. “The bottom line is we rely on the signal community to provide the communications for us to move the information around the battlefield and to [the continental United States] CONUS,” Col. Geesey says. “Sometimes what we find in theater is that the medical guy will go to the signal guy, and the signal guy says ‘That’s medical. I don’t touch that.’ We’ve been working with signal leadership to resolve these issues.”
Another important player in MC4 efforts is industry. Col. Geesey explains that his organization looks to partner with the private sector to leverage current and emerging technologies. His message for industry is similar to many in the military, but the officer emphasizes that he requires solutions that are “commercial standards, open source, open architecture and nonproprietary. Sell me a solution; don’t sell me hardware. Don’t tell me this is the device I need to do something. Give me the capability that supports the mission I’m trying to meet.”

Military Health System:
Telemedicine and Advanced Technical Research Center:

Services split over push for unified medical command

The military’s top medical officers are divided over a House-passed plan to re-organize the health care system under a unified medical command. The plan, in effect, would merge commands that the Army, Navy and Air Force have run with separate staffs and resources for decades.

Two of three surgeons general oppose the move and hope senators will reject it when preparing their own version of the fiscal 2012 Defense Authorization Bill.

The plan to restructure military medicine, which the Army and Navy embraced five years ago, assumes cost savings of $460 million a year by ending duplication of effort and staff redundancies across the services.

But Lt. Gen. Charles B. Green, Air Force surgeon general, said his service opposes a unified command, in part because it doesn’t believe the restructuring will save money.

“We believe a more effective and efficient joint medical solution can be attained without the expense of establishing a unified medical command,” Green said.

The Navy no longer supports medical command consolidation, at least not now. Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr., Navy surgeon general, warned “there is currently no joint construct or doctrine to permit the seamless and safe care for our servicemembers and their families” under a unified command.

But Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, Army surgeon general and commanding general of Army Medical Command, finds “merit in considering the most effective and efficient command structures to support the strategic goals of the military health system, the services and the combatant commanders.”

Under the House bill, the unified medical command would be a major combatant command similar to Special Operations Forces Command, and reporting directly to the secretary of defense. The four-star officer selected to run it would be given authority over medical staffing, training, purchasing, operations and readiness, just as SOCOM is responsible for all aspects of combined special forces.

Medical personnel still would be trained for service-unique missions in the culture of parent services. But overall medical training, assignments, procurement and operational support would be centrally controlled.

The unified command would oversee three subordinate commands led by three-star officers. One would be responsible for all fixed military treatment facilities. A second would run all medical training and education plus research and development. The plan is silent on functions such as logistics and information technology, allowing the department to organize those as it deems fit.

A third subordinate command, called the Defense Health Agency, would assume all functions now performed by the Tricare Management Activity including the multi-billion dollar Tricare support contracts that support vast networks of civilian health care providers to deliver a triple health care option to family members and retirees.

The House directs the secretary of defense to present details for implementing these changes to defense committees by July 1, 2012.

Military Update asked each current surgeon general his views on the unified command plan the House passed.

Green said the Air Force recognizes that service and joint medical doctrine “must be improved to assure service capabilities are fully interoperable and interdependent to bolster unity of effort. The services should continue integrating common medical platforms to reduce redundancy and lower costs.”

But a unified medical command might “not achieve the intended synergy or unity of effort,” Green said.

Robinson argued the medical community “is already highly integrated” with Army, Navy and Air Force working “seamlessly to care for patients from battlefield to bedside. If we were to create a new unified command, it would require extensive study on how it would be best implemented so that we don’t jeopardize our current capability or add excessive cost to the system.”

But Schoomaker noted that “numerous” past studies have endorsed a unified medical command to improve the health of the force and to reduce redundancies. “Like all major organizational transformation efforts, however, the devil resides in the details,” he said.

“Army Medicine recognizes the merit inherent in these efforts, providing that the continuum of care remains fully integrated,” he said.

ByTom Philpott

Unified Military Medical Command could save $460m a year

The Defense Department could save as much as $460 million a year by consolidating its fragmented military health system into a single joint medical command, a new government report says.

That idea is No. 2 on a list of 34 recommendations for eliminating duplicative functions and saving money across the federal government, compiled by the Government Accountability Office in a report released Tuesday.

If the idea to streamline the military health system sounds familiar, that’s because it is: Since the 1940s, at least 15 studies have addressed the structure of the military health care system, and all but three favored a unified system or at least a stronger central authority to improve management and coordination among the services. The most recent study was done in 2005 by the GAO itself.

But calls for a joint medical command have never gone anywhere because whenever the proposal surfaces, the individual services put up strong resistance.

In its new report, the GAO said the basic concept remains sound and has gained new importance in light of the deepening federal budget crisis and the military medical system’s soaring costs, which have shot up from $19 billion a decade ago to more than $50 billion today.

The GAO noted that the military health system — serving 9.6 million beneficiaries through more than 130,000 military and government medical professionals, a large network of private health care providers, 59 military hospitals, and hundreds of clinics worldwide — has multiple, and often overlapping, layers of authority.

Those layers start with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. Then the Army, Navy and Air Force each has its own medical headquarters and associated support functions, such as information technology, human capital management, financial activities, and contracting. Each branch also has its own surgeon general to oversee deployable medical forces and operate its own health care systems.

“The responsibilities and authorities for DoD’s military health system are distributed among several organizations … with no central command authority or single entity accountable for minimizing costs and achieving efficiencies,” the GAO said.

The GAO noted that in the wake of its 2005 report, the Pentagon formed a working group to examine “several reorganization alternatives.” A year later, the group outlined three possible options: establish a unified medical command similar to DoD’s unified transportation command; establish two separate commands — one to provide operational and deployable medicine and another to provide beneficiary care through military hospitals and contracted providers; or designate one of the military services to provide all health care services across the force.

The effort stalled “because of an inability to obtain a consensus among the services on which alternative to implement,” the new GAO report said.

Instead, top Pentagon personnel and health care officials opted for a different approach that involved “seven smaller-scale, incremental reorganization efforts” designed to minimize duplicative layers of command and control; reduce redundancies in personnel and expenses; and squeeze efficiencies from combining common service support functions within each service, such as finance, information management and technology, human capital management, support, and logistics.

But the concept left the existing command structures of the three services’ medical departments over all military treatment facilities essentially unchanged — and five years later, the DoD officials have made only fitful progress in implementing four of the seven incremental steps approved in 2006, and have offered no guidance on “how and when to accomplish the three remaining steps,” the GAO said.

Had DoD and the services chosen to move forward on one of the three other alternatives studied by the working group in 2006, the GAO report said, projected savings would have ranged from $281 million to $460 million annually, “depending on the alternative chosen and numbers of military, civilian, and contractor positions eliminated.”

A number of the other 33 recommendations in the report touched on other possible redundancies:

  • Urgent warfighter needs. The GAO said there are opportunities to consolidate and make more efficient the processes that the Pentagon has put in place to rapidly develop, modify and field new urgent capabilities for field forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technology, and systems to counter improvised explosive devices. GAO identified at least 31 entities that play a role in DoD’s urgent needs processes, which have consumed about $77 billion since 2005.
  • Counter-IED efforts. The Pentagon created the Joint Improvised Explosive Defeat Organization in 2006 to lead and coordinate all military counter-IED efforts. But the GAO said many of the organizations engaged in the counter-IED effort prior to JIEDDO’s creation have continued to develop, maintain, and expand their own IED-defeat capabilities. Some of these entities have operated independently “and may have developed duplicate capabilities,” the GAO said.
  • Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. No single entity at the DoD level has responsibility, authority, and control over resources to meet joint priority requirements in the ISR realm that has been critical to counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the GAO said. The ISR community has “extensive, structural fragmentation,” with numerous separate organizations sharing the same roles. Further clouding the picture is the fact that ISR funding comes from a variety of sources, some of which are classified.
  • Tactical wheeled vehicles. The Pentagon lacks a coherent, unified strategy for developing and purchasing tactical wheeled vehicles that transport people, weapons and cargo, the GAO said, noting that “DoD could save both acquisition and support costs through a departmentwide tactical wheeled vehicle strategy that considers costs and benefits of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle compared to other tactical wheeled vehicle options.”
  • Prepositioned equipment. The Defense Department prepositions equipment and supplies worth billions of dollars, including major items such as combat vehicles, rations, medical supplies, and repair parts, at strategic locations around the world, both afloat and ashore to quickly support combat-ready forces. “Although the services are expected to operate in a joint environment, some prepositioning activities are fragmented among the services, with the potential for unnecessary duplication,” the GAO report said.
  • • Business systems. The Defense Department’s business systems, which cost $10 billion a year, have “little standardization, multiple systems performing the same tasks, the same data stored in multiple systems, and manual data entry into multiple systems,” the GAO said.
  • By Chuck Vinch – Staff writer

Data Security and Interoperability Are Key to Transforming U.S. Health Care System

The lack of common interoperability standards and inconsistent approaches to security, privacy and trust are perpetuating an antiquated U.S. health care delivery system that has been largely unable to benefit from the widespread adoption of IT, according to Verizon’s top security and health care executive.
The executive, Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president of security and industry solutions for Verizon, called for the development of “simple, common-sense approaches to data security and interoperability” to help expand access to quality care, control costs and improve patient outcomes. He spoke at the 2011 Health Information Management Systems Society annual conference.
In a “Views from the Top” address titled “Prescription for Health IT: What’s Holding Us Back,” Tippett said: “The U.S. health care system is the envy of many countries around the world. However, there is much that needs to be done to bring the industry into the 21st century. Working together to tackle acknowledged industrywide challenges, we can foster an environment of change and through the pragmatic use of IT create a stronger and more viable health care system.”
Tippett outlined four key areas that he said will serve as the foundation for the future transformation of the health care system. The areas are:

  • Built-in Security – The ability to share information in a secure and trusted manner is a vital cornerstone in health care. To be effective, security compliance programs should be intuitive, easy-to-use and uniform across the industry.
  • Support for Structured and Unstructured Data – Due to a lack of common standards for its use and storage, data often remains in separate files rather than being combined to provide a holistic patient view. By redoubling efforts to tackle this issue, health care data can be easily shared among providers to help reduce medical errors and enable informatics and analytics to help improve treatment plans and patient outcomes.
  • High-IQ Networks – Pervasive and interconnected IP and wireless networks are the essential platforms to connect providers to foster innovation. Secure, high-performance networks will serve as the underlying foundational platforms to help drive productivity and efficiency enhancements.
  • Simplification – The U.S. health care system is diverse, ranging from large urban providers with thousands of physicians to small rural practices. Solutions must be affordable, consistent and, ultimately, simple. Leveraging current systems and data is an important first step and is essential for promoting usability and driving benefits to provide a solid foundation for future enhancements.

source: Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions