FORT DETRICK, Maryland -- Soldiers on the battlefield will soon use a new portable digital radiography system (PDRS) that is smaller, lighter, less expensive and more cyber-secure than previously fielded systems.
The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency will soon field the PDRS to the Army to replace two aging devices, including an X-ray generator and an accompanying computerized reader system. The PDRS combines these capabilities into a single lightweight X-ray unit intended for use by deployed medical, special operations and mortuary affairs Army units.
According to USAMMA equipment specialist Diego Gomez-Morales, the move to the PDRS will significantly reduce the cost per system and overall logistical footprint.
"The change will save the Army about $55,000 per system," said Gomez-Morales, who has served the Army for more than 30 years. "It will also reduce shipping weight by about 60 pounds per system and reduce the number of shipping containers from three to one."
Gomez-Morales said the PDRS will be fielded with a complete training support package, including guides for operators and maintainers. Additionally, all parts are cataloged and sourced, which will expedite future repairs.
"We tend to be 'MacGyvers' in the field," he said, referencing a 1980s television series that featured a crafty secret agent who used his practical knowledge to solve complex problems.
"The issue is that, without operator and maintainer manuals to guide us, we risk doing more damage than good when we try to work on this equipment in the field," he continued. "Integrated product support is an essential part of the acquisition and fielding of medical solutions. We are not solely focused on just putting out new materiel; we must think about the entire lifespan of these devices."
Additionally, the Navy and Marine Corps will also field the same system, according to Gomez-Morales, to move the military health system toward greater medical system standardization.
"Having the same system or device used across the military is easier for trainers, operators and maintainers," he said.
Modernizing medical devices also means ensuring they meet stringent Army cybersecurity requirements. Many modern medical devices need to connect to military computer networks to operate properly. In an effort to ensure medical devices purchased by the government do not introduce security vulnerabilities, each device must pass a robust security certification process.
The PDRS is the first Army medical device to receive its Authority to Operate (ATO) under the new Risk Management Framework (RMF) -- a process that took more than a year to complete. RMF integrates security and risk management activities into the system development life cycle. The risk-based approach to security control considers effectiveness, efficiency and constraints due to applicable laws, directives, executive orders, policies, standards or regulations.
"Achieving an ATO under RMF gives us peace of mind that this device complies with all of the current cybersecurity requirements, ensuring patients' private health information remains secure at all times," said Andrew McGraw, chief of USAMMA's Cybersecurity Division, Integrated Clinical Systems Program Management Office.
The PDRS received cybersecurity testing at the Information Security and Engineering Command; environmental testing at the Aberdeen Test and Evaluation Center; and operational testing at the U.S. Army Medical Center Department Center and School.
The PDRS was developed with support from the U.S. Army Medical Center Department Center and School's Capabilities Development Integration Directorate (CDID). The PDRS's integrated product team included members from the Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, CDID, the USAMMA National Maintenance Program, the USAMMA Cybersecurity Division and the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.
"The PDRS IPT did a great job of working together to get through the final steps of the acquisition process," Gomez-Morales said. "They really demonstrated strong teamwork, which was ultimately why this project is a success."
USAMMA is a subordinate agency of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, which is the Army's main medical materiel developer. USAMMA's mission is to develop, tailor, deliver and sustain medical materiel capabilities and data in order to build and enable health readiness.