Cognitive Medical Systems and Thornhill Medical announce that the companies have been selected by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command to receive $853,668 from the U.S. Department of Defense awarded through the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium to advance medical device interoperability and remote control to address pandemic conditions and a growing need to support military-prolonged emergency field care. 

The award is part of USAMRDC’s efforts to improve military field care and keep personnel healthy and combat-ready. The treatment of mass casualties, whether on the battlefield or at home has historically been predicated on the availability of well-equipped specially trained medical staff and the ability to rapidly evacuate patients. However, with global events like the COVID-19 pandemic and expected challenges in future near-peer multi-domain conflicts, emergency response planners must now prepare for “prolonged field care” where the sick and injured may be required to remain at the point of injury many days.

A flexible, dynamic capacity to safely meet local critical care demand using remotely controlled and eventually autonomous medical devices has emerged as an opportunity for innovation, which this award will support.  

Enabling remote providers to safely control local medical devices has the promise to augment the bedside team with expertise and experience that they might not otherwise have and will significantly impact workforce requirements. The remote control of bedside medical devices to be used in this project include Thornhill Medical’s U.S. FDA-approved MOVES SLC portable life support system, which offers a computer-controlled portable ventilator with oxygen-generation capability, vital signs monitoring and suction, and the developmental NeuroWave Systems AccuPump, a two-channel infusion system under development.

While the project is designed to advance the technical ability to remotely control a medical device, doing so safely and reliably is a significant challenge. “Operators of devices such as ventilators and IV pumps make clinical decisions based on their understanding of the bedside context of care,” says Emory Fry, MD, CEO at Cognitive Medical Systems. He adds: “When the care team is geographically distributed, remote operators may not share the same context as the local team—this creates significant challenges for care coordination, medical decision making, risk management, and resource allocation that the healthcare community is only beginning to appreciate.”

What’s more, Fry says, “The concerns our research is beginning to address extend well beyond simply changing a ventilator setting from afar.”