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What if we could unleash the power of data to build an active duty military precision medicine program? It’s a groundbreaking opportunity Booz Allen was determined to explore through the creation of the Air Force Medical Service (AFMS) Digital Biobank platform, combining the best of science and technology to support service members’ health, performance, and military readiness.
“By linking genomics and clinical information, the Biobank empowers the AFMS to help reintegrate service members based on their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.”
The Air Force was producing a large amount of valuable genomics data from its healthcare beneficiaries, but it was often inaccessible for reuse due to storage in on-site hard drives. Considering security, scalability, and cross-system interaction, how could the AFMS take this data and create insights that could impact patient care? Since data collection was just the first step with much larger potential, the AFMS set out to:
Equipped with a deep understanding of the AFMS that comes from having supported the organization in a variety of capacities for over a decade, Booz Allen assembled a multidisciplinary team to devise and execute a tailored solution. The team included computer scientists, health and genomics PHDs, and cloud developers with experience in multiple government organizations.
There were a number of important issues on the table for discussion:
Together with the AFMS, Booz Allen’s team decided to move from an on-site IT system to an entirely cloud-based platform for the Digital Biobank. This adoption and embrace of cloud computing was a new approach for the Defense Health Agency (DHA).
Booz Allen and the AFMS co-facilitated a series of technical exchange forums that helped arrive at this solution. They brought together government, academic, and industry experts in the fields of genomics, precision medicine, informatics, and security and privacy to share insights, recommendations, and lessons learned. Key ideas from the forums included the adoption of cloud computing, the investigation of blockchain technology to facilitate data sharing between systems, and insights into specific military-focused precision medicine use cases.
The next phase required combining scientific understanding with
Booz Allen worked with the AFMS to create the Digital Biobank platform, which would foster research and enable genomic data storage, automated bioinformatics, and querying and
By linking genomics and clinical information, the Biobank empowers the AFMS to help reintegrate service members based on their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. For example, one of the largest complaints in the Air Force is hearing loss, specifically noise-induced. With the Biobank, the AFMS will be able to identify genetic markers of noise-induced hearing loss and make actionable decisions for who should be wearing what level for hearing protection.
Optimization, cost containment, and security requirements directed the development of the Biobank toward
Booz Allen will seek accreditation (a first for the DHA) for the Biobank, based on the Risk Management Framework requirements to attain an Authority to Operate in DHA’s Amazon Web Services GovCloud environment, forecasted for September 2018.
Looking ahead, the Biobank will enable the AFMS to more efficiently and effectively provide clinical care and improve health outcomes—supporting targeted health prevention modalities, more efficient research studies, and greater modernization of clinical practice guidelines. The Digital Biobank provides the U.S. military with a platform for the storage and analysis of genomic information. Recognized with a 2018 FedHealthIT award, this effort to combine science, healthcare, and innovative cloud technology within a tightly regulated environment has opened doors for other MHS policymakers and the Air Force Medical Support Agency.
Read more about the FedHealthIT Innovation Awards.
Vast amounts of data are becoming available for precision medicine, giving us the potential to make quantum leaps in our understanding of disease and how to treat it. But so far, we’ve had only a limited ability to use all this big data—much of it is scattered in countless isolated databases that have been difficult to bring together to get the big picture. Read More