by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant
We are one week away from the largest reorganization of military health in the Defense Department’s history – the formation of the Defense Health Agency (DHA). The new agency promises to be more than just a rearranging of desk chairs as it will change how the Defense Department handles procurement, oversight, and implementation of all facets of military health, including IT acquisitions. As Rick pointed out in his article on the DHA back in August, cost savings played a big part in this move for the Defense Department. And as we’ve highlighted before, shared services is a major aspect of the federal government’s campaign to drive down IT spending and DHA reflects this strategy.
DHA is expected to lower costs by merging services. Starting October 1, DHA will bring under one common roof, facilities planning (no pun intended), medical logistics, health IT, as well as Tricare and pharmacy services. By October 1, 2015, when DHA becomes fully operational, it will have oversight over public health, medical acquisition, budget and resource management, medical education and training, and medical research and development. The services will keep their respective medical commands, each headed up by their particular surgeon general.
If you cover Military Health Systems (MHS) and are familiar with the organizational landscape, you’ll note that many of the personnel won’t change. The senior leaders of the new DHA are as follows:
- Director, Lieutenant General Douglas Robb, second in command over the TRICARE Management Activity will become the first Director of DHA
- Deputy Director, Allen Middleton, who now oversees the budget will serve as his deputy
- Chief Information Officer, Dave Bowen will stay on as the CIO
- Acting Director Business Support Directorate: Colonel Darrell Landreaux
- Director, National Capital Region (NCR) Medical Directorate: Rear Admiral Raquel Bono
- Acting Director, Education and Training Directorate: Rear Admiral William Roberts
- Acting Director, Research and Development Directorate: Major General Joseph Caravalho
In the months ahead DHA will face significant challenges right out of the gate and will be looking to industry for assistance. For example, the agency will be looking to COTS solutions for its upcoming integrated electronic health record, which is designed to both simplify healthcare for military personnel moving to civilian life and fuse legacy systems into one modernized system that will bring about a lifetime electronic health record. Moreover, with DOD facing mounting personnel costs, particularly in the area of healthcare, Pentagon leaders will be looking for solutions within DHA that will help realize cost efficiencies.
Finally, there are big changes ahead in military health IT, but you will be well-positioned if you have low cost solutions that cater to their priorities, namely in the areas of standardization, shared services, information sharing, and data analytics.