JHU APL Developing MDIRA

Medical care today often requires an array of medical devices to capture and communicate the critical patient data needed for ensuring best patient outcomes. These devices, however, are largely unable to communicate with one another as interoperable systems, creating a significant sources of wasted, inefficiency, and risk to patient safety.

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) https://www.jhuapl.edu in Laurel Maryland, is leading a team of collaborators to develop a Medical Device Interoperability Reference Architecture (MDIRA). MDIRA is a technical framework to guide organizations and industry in developing interoperable, safe, effective, and secure integrated medical systems to deliver the next generation of medical care. MDIRA will help to provide a framework for implementing remote and autonomous care when and where appropriate.

The project to develop MDIRA being funded by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) through the Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC), is going to enable a caregiver to leave a patient’s side to attend to other casualties on the battlefield and maybe even for extended periods in distant locations.

According to Erik Wolf, Acting Director of USAMRDC’s Medical Simulation and Information Sciences Research Program, “Autonomous medical systems which can operate independently so patients can be sustained, will be critical to providing prolonged care to injured warfighters at the point of injury. The MDIRA architecture will allow different systems to work together and share information.”

Support for autonomous systems is a key driver for MDIRA. Civilian disaster events may also be hampered by limited access and significant casualties, which could overwhelm available medical and evacuation resources.

This means that first responders need autonomous capabilities to sustain patients for prolonged periods until evacuation is possible. A MDIRA-compliant system could enable a single caregiver to monitor the status of multiple patients via a mobile device. Medical robots could even be part of those systems, which could further reduce the workload of medical personnel.

APL is collaborating with a multidisciplinary team to include:

  • Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality
  • Massachusetts General Hospital’s Medical Device Interoperability and Cybersecurity Program
  • DocBox, Inc.
  • Trusted solutions foundry, Inc.
  • Arcos, Inc.
  • Drager
  • Phillips Healthcare


Jan Rizzuto, Health Systems Engineer at Johns Hopkins APL reports, “The objective is to demonstrate the use of MDIRA to advance medical device interoperability and autonomous medical systems and to motivate manufacturers to implement MDIRA requirements into their devices in the future.”

Visit the MDIRA website at https://secwww.jhuapl.edu/mdira for more information.

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