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ASU awarded $2.4 million grant to fund DoD research project

University selected to innovate military health care logistics

ASU selected to innovate military health care logistics

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December 12, 2018

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University has announced plans to provide strategic recommendations to the nation’s military to improve patient care for service members. 

ASU is partnering with Active Innovations, Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), and Expression Networks to develop recommendations for a fully integrated supply chain organization model to include dashboards and simulations. The Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) research project award will provide $2.4 million in funding under the guide of principal investigator Eugene Schneller, a professor of supply chain management. It’s the largest research contract received by ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business to date. 

The core mission is to identify emerging technology and operational methods that can improve overall performance and function of Defense Medical Logistics Enterprise Solution (DML-ES) and the future LogiCole system, as it moves toward a more integrated cloud-based system. 

Among the problems health care systems face is delivering supplies — everything from pharmaceuticals to devices to equipment — to people in remote places. This is especially true for troops supporting combat operations, said Schneller.

At the end of the project, researchers hope that U.S. military medical logistics will be recognized as a fully integrated supply chain organization — a concept developed by ASU researchers to describe the most progressive nonmilitary health care supply chain organizations. 

“One thing we’ll be considering is the use of drones in delivering supplies. Another technology that’s being talked about a great deal is the use of 3D printing for items on-site that aren’t available immediately,” said Schneller, whose goal is to design a conceptual system model that’s not just responsive to what’s needed today, but a roadmap that is good for the next two decades.  

“We will also be considering the use of blockchain for supply chain enhancement — an area where other industries are considering the impact of this technology on performance. Professor Dale Rogers, who will serve as co-investigator, has done extensive research in this area,” said Schneller. “Health care technology is moving so quickly. How do you purchase and procure products and manage new technologies that a hospital might use as they come into use? What we’re going to be looking at is end-to-end supply chain optimization.” 

The Department of Defense operates one of the nation’s largest health care systems with 9.4 million beneficiaries served by almost 900 treatment facilities worldwide. Daily, this equates to nearly 20,000 supply requisitions, 4,000 work orders on $8.1 billion worth of biomedical equipment and 3,000 work orders for more than 4,000 medical and dental facilities and buildings.

Phase one

Researchers will review current systems at Fort Detrick, Maryland, home of the medical logistics agencies for the United States Army, Navy and Air Force. Data that’s gathered will help assess the potential adoption of emerging technologies like 3D printing, predictive modeling for logistics pre-positioning, blockchain for cybersecurity and data integrity, drone delivery and tracking.

Phase two

Prototypes of dashboard and simulations will be developed, depending on phase one recommendations. Researchers will provide a roadmap on how the Defense Health Agency, Medical Logistics Division can develop and implement future LogiCole capabilities. 

Expression Networks, which has provided state-of-the-art systems capabilities and dashboards to numerous government and private organizations will be critical in phase two. 

“We are thrilled to be part of the ASU military health care logistics innovation project team. We will bring technology, analytics and advanced visualization techniques together to build meaningful situational awareness dashboards for the Defense Health Agency,” said Abir Ray with Expression Networks. 

GHX is known internationally for its cloud-based supply chain technology exchange and solutions that help hospitals streamline purchasing by maximizing automation, efficiency and accuracy of business processes.

“The opportunity to help our military deliver the best, most efficient and effective patient care to millions of service members through a best-in-class supply chain is a privilege we are embracing. Working with ASU and these other partners should yield incredible value to the DoD but also to supply chain leaders throughout healthcare,” said Tina Vatanka Murphy, chief revenue officer with GHX. 

Active Innovations will bring together its relationships with health care supply chain management and information technology planning experts to provide input and document review. 

“We are excited about this opportunity to work with ASU and our other project team members on this project. It will provide many opportunities to collaborate on how best to model optimum practices and recommendations for innovative approaches from our review of current systems to be integrated with cloud-based capabilities for the future LogiCole system,” said Richard A. Perrin, co-principal investigator with Active Innovations. 

Recognizing the need for an innovative and comprehensive solution, Schneller says his team of private sector organizations and academic partners is a testament to why Arizona State University was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for innovation by U.S. News & World Report for the fourth straight year.

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