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Delayed/Disconnected, Intermittently-Connected, Low-Bandwidth (DIL) Communications Capability in Support of Military Medical Systems Availability in Dispersed and Denied Operations

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Bio Medical 

OBJECTIVE: Develop next generation technical architecture using computing and network virtualization that seamlessly supports network resiliency and availability of applications resources in both no-bandwidth and severely limited communications environments. The features include dynamic adaptation in real-time to the available conditions and resources with no pause or disruption in availability or the integrity of the data captured or processed. That is, the government is seeking from industry novel forms of network and computing infrastructure research and development supporting application prioritization, storing, sending and processing of medical records and related clinical systems in a network fault tolerant manner supporting local processing (and queueing) when no bandwidth conditions exist and automatic recovery/re-synchronization and transfer of records bi-directionally when network capabilities are available/restored without detection of impact by the clinical application. The target architecture, systems and network infrastructure should support virtualization of network and “containerization” of software application functions (e.g. network function virtualization) such that seamless operations of medical records and application processing continues unabated across a spectrum of reliability challenges including latency, transactions and clinical applications at the point of care/point of injury far forward in austere environments supporting the Military Health System (MHS) Genesis implementation of the Cerner Millenium suite as the source electronic health records system. 

DESCRIPTION: The Joint Operational Medical Information System (JOMIS) provides the definitive electronic medical record for use in Theater/Operational Medicine settings. As stated in the United States Army-Marine Corps White Paper “Multi-Domain Battle: Combined Arms for the 21st Century” the emerging and anticipated future operational environment will be significantly different from past engagements which experienced total air, land, sea supremacy and assured evacuation of combat injured personnel within the first critical hour. By contrast, the future battlefield and theater of operations is likely confront unconventional and sophisticated adversaries in dispersed operations far forward and in denied environments and in overmatch situations that challenge the military’s medical reach and ability to delivery medical care. The Joint Concept for Health Services (2015) foresees medical capabilities with significantly reduced footprints. Documentation at the point of injury in the future battlefield is essential to timely delivery of medical care by combat medics and corpsmen on the front line and includes the evacuation of patients at battalion aid stations to forward surgical teams, combat support hospitals and ultimately for definitive care in medical treatment facilities. Yet, the infrastructure and network capabilities necessary to support documentation of patient care far forward is anticipated to be minimal or non-existent. 

PHASE I: The Phase I section briefly describes expectations and desired results/end product. Keep in mind that a Phase I is a feasibility study that should demonstrate or determine the scientific, technical, and commercial merit and feasibility of a selected concept. Phase I projects cover a 6-month, $100K (max) effort. The following are key words and phrases that may be helpful in writing the Phase I section: • Define, determine and demonstrate feasible concepts and potential solutions to achieving network function virtualization for reliable access and use of higher order medical and clinical applications in denied and dispersed environments requiring patient care and evacuation with precise and accurate electronic medical record documentation across the continuum. Demonstrate a path to integration of the solution with the MHS Genesis electronic health record system. • The proposed system should focus on virtualized network functions that implement a flexible, extensible mechanisms to manage data handling, cacheing, and replication that can function in low-bandwidth and intermittently-disconnected environments. Mechanisms to instantiate, configure, and manage/administer virtualized infrastructure in such environments should be part of the Phase-I product. Note in this case that managing / administration must be achievable by someone with minimal to moderate training (i.e. not an expert in network virtualization). A successful Phase-I effort will produce: • A lab quality prototype demonstrating the ability to instantiate, configure, manage, and destroy virtualized network functions supporting end-to-end communications in eventually-connected environments (i.e. environments where contemporaneous end-to-end communications paths are not always present, but where eventual piecewise connectivity between a source and a destination is present). 

PHASE II: Similar to the Phase I section, the Phase II section briefly describes expectations and minimum required deliverable. Phase II represents a major research and development effort, culminating in a well-defined deliverable prototype (i.e., a technology, product or service) meeting the requirements of the original solicitation topic and which can be made commercially viable. Phase II projects cover a 2-year, $1.0M (max) effort. • Refine the product from in Phase I as well as deliver a reference implementation with ‘running code’ that achieves network function virtualization supporting continuous clinical systems operations under no and low-communications conditions and in optimal conditions, demonstrates seamless recovery and re-synchronization when the underlying infrastructure is restored with no perceived impact to the clinical records systems functionality, availability, response time performance or data integrity. • The Phase-II product should be at technology readiness level 6 (System Adequacy Validated in Simulated Environment) in order to be considered for incorporation into the JOMIS program which is in the technology maturation and risk reduction (TMRR) phase. 

PHASE III: SBIR Phase III refers to work that derives from, extends, or logically concludes effort(s) performed under prior SBIR funding agreements, but is funded by sources other than the SBIR Program. Phase III work is typically oriented towards technology transition to Acquisition Programs of Record and/or commercialization of SBIR research or technology. In Phase III, the small business is expected to obtain funding from non-SBIR government sources and/or the private sector to develop or transition the prototype into a viable product or service for sale in the military or private sector markets. The Phase III description must include the "vision" or "end-state" of the research. It must describe one or more specific Phase III military applications and/or supported S&T or acquisition program as well as the most likely path for transition of the SBIR from research to operational capability. Additionally, the Phase III section must include (a) one or more potential commercial applications OR (b) one or more commercial technology that could be potentially inserted into defense systems as a result of this particular SBIR project. Note that there is no limit on the number, duration, type, or dollar value of Phase III SBIR/STTR awards made to a business concern. There is no limit on the time that may elapse between a Phase I or Phase II award and Phase III award or between a Phase III award and any subsequent Phase III award. Also, the small business size limits for Phase I and Phase II awards do not apply to Phase III awards. Congress intends that agencies that pursue R&D or production developed under the SBIR/STTR programs give preference, including sole source awards, to the awardee that developed the technology. Phase III awards may be made by any Government entity without further competition. The competition for SBIR and STTR Phase I and Phase II awards satisfies any competition requirement when processing Phase III awards. Therefore, an agency is not required to conduct another competition in order to satisfy any statutory provisions for competition. 

REFERENCES: 

1: United States Army-Marine Corps White Paper - Multi-Domain Battle: Combined Arms for the 21st Century https://ccc.amedd.army.mil/PolicyPositions/Multi-Domain%20Battle%20-%20Combined%20Arms%20for%20the%2021st%20Century.pdf

2:  Joint Concept for Health Services (JCHS) 2015 - http://afrims.amedd.army.mil/media/joint_concept_health_services.pdf

KEYWORDS: Network Function Virtualization, Fault-tolerant Network And Application Infrastructure, Resilient Clinical Applications During Network Disruptions 

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