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Week 9: Building out a vision for data input

One of the important hypotheses we tested this week was the concept that we can build this data input to accommodate all users. This was an important hypothesis to test because we have kind of determined that the most valuable way of using this product would be to extend it to all users. We wanted to describe how we can regulate it, and understand if our current interface prototypes address those needs- and especially understand if beneficiaries like our “Freemium” idea. So we heard that idea basically answered questions of access for our beneficiaries, and they were happy we had thought through the issues of security and classification. Next steps on that would focus on how the data is stored on a tech level, and deciding to delineate user input based on features of medical facilities rather than users themselves.


We also got a better understanding of concerns medical planners might have with our product, in that we tested if it would be valuable for users to be able to access data input right after they finish a medical facility assessment. Planners may feel that information needs to be vetted- so we need to reconcile with the fact that we cannot cover all aspects of the medical planning process, but at least we can make the information gathering easier from an unclassified standpoint.


For deployment, we are considering creating some testing with North Carolina facilities for users to test during training in a low-risk environment, and then slowly releasing it to Special Forces groups that can add info and bring back updated versions as they return. These would be possible deployment options to explore, based on tech readiness levels. Though with our product all of the components do exist from a technology standpoint, such as location services, cloud data storage, etc, we would need to build the app so that these parts all come together seamlessly. That integration is the major technological challenge.


Interview #1: Eric, 18D (New User)


  • Product would help refine processes and consolidate information that would normally take “an extraordinary amount of time and effort to consolidate” because while it is reported post-mission, it is difficult to access or find across multiple sources
    • The way it works right now, you complete a medical assessment and submit it in X form post deployment and it’s basically an input system only- no one knows where that information goes
    • Part of the problem is that the information is stored by agencies (like the Defense Health Agency) whose whole job is to manage that information, so they have never felt the need to simplify user interfaces for accessing it- no one outside the organization has success using it
    • Example: Like if someone’s entire job was to surf the internet, the army would have Internet Explorer as a career field, whereas we use it as a tool, it’s someone’s 9-5 so you can imagine how complex it could be to explore the internet if that was a job in itself,
  • Would suggest expanding usage to NGOs, private companies, State Department, etc. both to cast widest net of input for that refresh and to mask metadata of input
    • Include not just medical capabilities but also info on each asset’s previous records of success working with local populations- things like how many patients they see per period of time, etc.
  • Organizationally – the DoD is very protective about health information, who can input it, who can access it, who possess it etc…. so it will need to work within our current permission protocols
    • Authenticity measures, SIPR servers, etc. for tech readiness considerations


Interview #2: Darrell, PA (Repeat)

  • Biggest concern is how we would populate this information and feed this database, and then how it would be maintained to have regular information
    • Likes the Freemium solution for classified versus unclassified kind of information, and being able to build something like that definitely mitigates a lot of the geo-based risks associated with medical information
    • Going through the interface, he can see a lot of value in this product being easy to populate the information and returning that information output back to the users much more quickly
  • Traditionally, medical information has always been sensitive and on a need-to-know kind of basis, like with the forms you mentioned- an 18D might go through all the work of filling out an assessment, submit it, and because their deployments are short, never see it again
    • Involves Environmental Service Officers (preventive medicine or force protection)
    • The assessment form is evaluated at a higher headquarters level to look for completeness and presence of appropriate information
    • Then it is “put into a couple different systems” on the secret side
    • Knows this process works and at some point the information becomes searchable on JRAMP- but it takes several months
  • Could definitely be useful in environments other than austere like in Africa
    • Based on his past experience, places like Kosovo where they relied heavily on civilian medical assets for specialty evaluations, etc. even in the conventional army


Interview #3: Dr. Yang (Repeat)

  • 20$ for one assessment will be a huge incentive for updating information of healthcare facility, especially for individuals.
  • Technical training and supports could be more attractive to those managers of clinics.

Interview #4: Mark Thomas, Librarian for GIS, Economics, Maps, & Geography (Tech Expert)

  • Helped with the visualization of the map we have so far, discussed how to make it search just one country and gave several resources to use for political boundaries
  • Showed how to join attribute data and add columns within the dataset more specific to hospitals (beds, surgery, emergency, etc.)


Interview #5: Rickardo, Former Medical Logistics Officer (New User)

  • Told us that the medical brigade puts together a plan, briefs it, and provides oversight of the plan
  • Not a need for our product because there is a Combat Service Support Plan so all medical echelons of care are planned

Interview #6, Samuel Williston, Former 18D, Consultant @ Raytheon (New User)

  • Sam has deep knowledge into the implementation and acquisition of military manuals from his 18D transition to an advisory role at Raytheon. He works with the ATAC test office to vet new vendors and capabilities
  • His insights on the MVP:
    • Enjoys the visual interface but feels icons can be cluttered when zoomed far out
    • Concerned about the compliance/legal components to the app
    • How can I trust the same asset will be there when I return?
    • Interested in seeing if there can be a rating system implemented instead of a yes/no appraisal
    • Wondering if there is a fail-safe if data is wrong or corrupt
  • Good start to a complex problem, will likely need to obtain extensive approval from Army legal and compliance offices before use

Interview #7, William Dahl, 18D transitioned from BCT ranger school (Repeat)

  • William has graduated the Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM) program in June 2013 as part of pipeline to become a Ranger Medic. This is a condensed evaluation of the course to give any other Rangers an insight into what to expect.
  • His insights on the MVP:
    • Asks if it is allowed to pay $ incentive to active users. Unsure if other 18Ds have received a $ incentive before
    • Interested in seeing if this works in enemy territories
    • Wondering if there is a fail-safe if data is wrong or corrupt?
    • Considers this tool as a “supplementary” feature as opposed to critical to mission success
  • Good start to a complex problem but only valuable if good in enemy zones
  • Wouldn’t use it himself until it’s been thoroughly tested

Interview #8, Robert Washington, Implementation Architect, Raytheon (Tech Expert)

  • Larry was formally a engineer at Google Innovations working primarily on the deployment of autonomous car sensors before switching to defense and helping hte DoD design the data transfer protocols for military innovative projects. His most recent project has been implementing a pilot data transfer protocol on creating a system to help the F-35 fighter transfer sensor data back to mission control in a real-time manner.
  • His insights on the MVP:
    • Love the use of location services (says that is next step for military)
    • How does this data get updated?
    • How can I trust another user will use it the way I want it to?
    • Interested in seeing if implementing a pilot of the service on a broader set of Army medics might make more sense. Test reach rate and general approval of tech before drilling into specific set of beneficiaries.
    • Interested in seeing if data inputted can be on a “delayed” refresh meaning there is a 3-5 day delay in uploading data points so they can be verified and vetted before someone accidentally uses a false/unproven medical asset.
  • Wants to see if the infrastructure of this database can be combined with existing military systems. Might be lower barrier of entry if it can be interoperable with current tech.

Interview #9, General John Kelly, Retired US Marine Corps General and Former Chief of Staff, Raytheon (New User)

  • Very excited by this question: “these are the best questions I’ve heard tonight”
  • Deployment: effective deployment in the military means implementing it into our training mechanisms → tools for information management need to become part of the learning process for new, young military recruits
  • If you are open sourcing this, the guard against security threats needs to be strong, especially because medical asset information is highly sensitive
    • How can you make sure updates are uncompromised and accurate? I like the idea of having another version for military men specifically that draws from and focuses on verification of all information, just think about who would be in charge of that verification process and how often they could do that job.
      • Every few months of refreshed data seems like a reasonable goal (and helpful timespan for military forces)

Interview #10, Kevin Schwartz, SOFAC Instructor, (Repeat)

  • Gave us a new (pay) site: Travax that has good information but said the resources we’re using are similar if not the same ones that they use
  • Doesn’t want it to turn into a “Wikipedia”, so want to make sure there’s a verification process
  • Absolutely would use it and it wouldn’t be a problem to get it into a training or present it to a few people (More of a casual encounter – roundtable discussion where there’s education and training with open dialogue)
  • Possible to update via military but really the only incentive would be to make sure that it needs to be as easy as possible – like the map function on iPhone

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