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DTRA Invests in Distance Learning System for Clinician Select Agent Training

Online Medical TrainingThe Defense Threat Reduction Agency has announced intentions to award a sole-source contract to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) to deliver training on infectious diseases related to Select Agents and Toxins for clinicians in Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) partner-countries.

BMJ has developed a commercially available platform that provides training to clinical practitioners and specialists in the form of online modules to supplement their existing medical training with the best available, world-renowned, and peer- reviewed clinical data.

This procurement is intended to acquire the services of the BMJ to adapt their existing system to complete their comprehensive offering of training material on Select Agents and Toxins, which already contains approximately 30% of Select Agent data.

Since CBEP is adapting their platform, the BMJ is expected to absorb the cost of updating all of the material once development is complete. In addition, CBEP plans to procure standalone standardized educational material which will be considered Government Furnished Information (GFI) that may be distributed to partner nations.

“Correct clinical diagnosis of infectious dieases caused by Select Agents is critical for early disease detection. Given that symptoms of infectious diseases caused by Select Agents often present as common endemic clinical conditions, there is a mission need to deploy clinical/medical training programs that help our partner nations to identify and differentially diagnose diseases of security concern,” states the announcement. “This will ultimately improve the accuracy of diagnoses and downstream reporting, therefore providing fidelity to decision making in the event that a disease of security concern emerges.”

The current CBEP training model requires contractor personnel to travel OCONUS for several days in order to conduct classroom-based training events.  Based on recent studies conducted by National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institute of Health (NIH) and United States Agency for International Development, this type of training is not indicative of effective information uptake especially for practicing clinicians who are limited in their schedule availability.

The same studies have recommended distance learning and on-the-job training as a much more effective tool to stay abreast of the most recent medical developments for accurate diagnoses. As a result, CBEP is initiating a new training paradigm by utilizing an existing distance-learning platform to supplement practicing clinicians’ medical knowledge and training them in how to properly diagnose infectious diseases of security concern.

The estimated total contract dollar value is $3.7M. It is likely that the base period of performance will begin in late FY16. CBEB expects to use a combination of FY16 and FY17 funds for the base period.

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