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Research Questions

  1. What are the technology infrastructure requirements of GHE planners and practitioners, both at the GCCs and component commands and within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, to support the planning and execution of GHE activities, as well as assessment, monitoring, and evaluation approaches?
  2. How would the development of a joint GHE Intellipedia-like site improve collaboration and information-sharing among the GHE community?

Global health engagement (GHE) is an integral part of the cooperation efforts of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the geographic combatant commands (GCCs) with partner nations and provides support in training and preparing their military and civilian health systems. These activities encompass a wide spectrum of engagements — military-to-military, military-to-civilian, and multilateral — and support joint missions of humanitarian aid and disaster response, deterrence, access and presence, counterterrorism, and homeland defense.

Global health engagements and activities require extensive planning, funding, and resource allocation within the GCCs and component commands. For a continuously growing breadth of GHE and the need to support joint exercises with partner military and civilian medical professionals for partner capacity-building, GHE also requires a robust information technology infrastructure. In this report, the authors assess the technology and process requirements to support the life cycle of GHE activities and assessments — from planning to evaluation — and the information- and knowledge-sharing needs of the GHE community.

To do so, they conducted a literature review related to GHE activities, funding sources, and stakeholders; the evolution of technology solutions to support GHE; systems in use by GHE practitioners; and technology solutions in the market, focusing particularly on cloud infrastructure and services and cloud service providers. They held discussions with GHE subject-matter experts to document and analyze GHE technology platform requirements. And they assessed the available and planned platforms according to their features, enhancements, support and maintenance, data integration, interoperability, and future road maps.

Key Findings

The analysis revealed barriers in conducting GHE activities efficiently and effectively

  • Current technology platforms do not support all GHE practitioners' requirements for capturing and tracking all activities.
  • Current platforms are not user-friendly, are not consistently maintained, and lack data standardization.
  • GHE practitioners have (1) limited access to historical data and information on current GHE engagements and (2) limited visibility into all GHE activities within one and across all areas of responsibility.
  • The GHE community seeks an integrated (and, ideally, a single) platform that would help with data access and visibility across GCCs, interoperability, sharing lessons learned, and cost analysis.
  • Mandates and policies must support GHE practitioners by enabling better data capturing and verification practices.
  • Data analytics capabilities are needed to showcase the value of GHE to combatant commanders, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, DoD civilian leadership, and the U.S. Congress.

An Intellipedia-like site might not be the answer to knowledge-sharing across GCCs, a critical need for the GHE community

  • The GHE community sees little value in a separate GHE Intellipedia site, despite Common Access Card (CAC) access, because of issues with maintenance and ease of use.
  • Information shared on previous GCC Intellipedia pages was not intelligence and has been of little use beyond the GCC.
  • GHE practitioners prefer to use an integrated platform that also supports collaborative tools.

Recommendations

  • The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs should facilitate the creation of a GHE Integrated Product Team (IPT) to provide GHE-specific platform requirements and acceptance criteria to system developers.
  • The GHE community should leverage existing platforms, with the IPT directing future enhancements, maintenance, and useability.
  • The GHE technology platform should provide different process workflows to support different funding and activity needs.
  • The platform should provide continuous data integration with AOR-specific "homegrown" systems used by the GHE community and import data captured in siloed, on-premises systems.
  • The platform should include data entry compliance and verification to ensure the completeness of ongoing and after-action updates of GHE activities.
  • The GHE IPT should continuously monitor and communicate data and verification policies with platform program management.
  • The GHE platform(s) should provide advanced data analytics capabilities that leverage integrated GHE data to enable reporting, forecasting, planning, and decisionmaking for GHE leadership.
  • Because there is no demand signal for a separate GHE Intellipedia, the GHE community should consider other integrated platform alternatives to facilitate collaboration and knowledge- and intelligence-sharing.
  • The GHE community should explore the integration of data from platforms capturing lessons learned, after-action reviews, and information on other joint events.

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and conducted within the Personnel, Readiness, and Health Program of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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