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Measuring Mission Effectiveness in the Medical Context

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Human Factors and Medicine

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Assessment, Medical Countermeasures, Medical Research, Metrics, Mission Effectiveness, Return on Investment


The rising frequency and complexity of military operations places increasing importance on the safety, health and survivability of our warfighters. Delivering advancements in medical interventions to meet traditional and unconventional warfare is imperative if we are to save lives on and off the battlefield. New warfare technologies and capabilities, a direct result of advances in military Science & Technology, will continue to enable a broader range of combat activities. In turn, these new types of engagements will lead to new types of medical challenges. While the medical community must be able to anticipate, and be ready to deal, with these, producing military-unique medical interventions and countermeasures is costly. Against static or decreasing military budgets identifying which capabilities to pursue requires objective cost-benefit tradeoffs against other solutions. Until recently, quantifying the return on investment of medical research had been widely ignored as an area of rigorous study, with subjective advocacy often standing in place of objective analysis. Recent studies, however, such as the Health Economics Research Groups’ (2008) report “Medical Research: What’s it Worth?” demonstrate that it is possible to develop and apply methods for valuing medical research. The challenges with these approaches are that they focus primarily on economic-focused outcomes of medical research, demonstrating value in terms such as job development or illness avoidance. These types of outcome measures do not effectively translate to the military medicine domain, which is focused on ensuring that our warfighters are able to maintain and sustain their performance prior to, during and following mission execution, and that they can be returned to mission ready status after sustaining injuries. This means that for military medical research, the emphasis should be on mission-focused outcomes. For these reasons, it is critical to develop new approaches, guidelines and techniques for measuring mission effectiveness in the context of medical capabilities. These metrics must align with or be traceable to the broader set of metrics used to measure overall mission effectiveness.


To develop methods, techniques and procedures that enable medical practitioners, medical logisticians, senior leadership and other stakeholders to quantify and assess the effectiveness of military medical interventions and countermeasures in terms of mission effectiveness across the NATO Alliance. The aim of this RTG is to compile information in a practical, usable form of “what works and its value to the military” as well as developing a tutorial that can be delivered to various NATO audiences. Consideration of human factors / human systems integration, training, and deployment will be major areas of emphasis. To accomplish these objectives this RTG will: • Identify and develop a list of medical S&T gaps and the metrics that are currently being used to assess their value. From this list, identify stakeholders for collaboration, characterize interdisciplinary opportunities and engage with ongoing NATO HFM ET and RTG activities that would be able to contribute to and support the objectives of this RTG, including serving as ‘case studies’ to exemplify actual effectiveness assessments. • Characterize the current state of the art in valuing research, with an emphasis on medical research. This characterization will include economic and other types of approaches used in the private, public and commercial sectors leading to a comprehensive literature review on different models, methods and approaches for valuing research. • Working with the Panel and COMEDS sponsor a Workshop focusing on “Measuring Mission Effectiveness in the Medical Context” to validate the state of the art assessment of research valuation, confirm the different manners in which measures of research value might be used, and identify new methods, techniques, perspectives and use cases. • Capture efforts in a NATO Technical Report that includes select papers from the Workshop and provides recommendations for assessing effectiveness in the medical context and develop a tutorial based on this Technical Report.


• Methods for calculating research effectiveness, including validation techniques, and a gap analysis between current approaches and desired capabilities • Research requirements generation • Measures of Effectiveness, Measures of Performance • Data collection and analysis techniques • Workshop development • Technical Report and Tutorial development

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