How tech companies can step up after latest ransomware attack

Lloyd McCoy Jr.By Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD manager

Most of us are still reeling from the turmoil brought on by the WannaCry malware last weekend. While most of you reading were not directly affected, the global scale of the ransomware attack cannot be ignored. Even though our federal, state and local governments were spared the brunt of the attacks, they are, by no means, immune to the dangers posed by ransomware.

Some sectors of government are more vulnerable than others and so the IT industry, particularly those companies specializing in anti-ransomware solutions, should be aware of these distinctions.

Read more of this post

3 reasons why 2017 is the year for defense health IT

Lloyd McCoy Jr.dha_012417By Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD manager

2017 promises to be a pivotal year for the Defense Health Agency and not just because MHS Genesis, the Department of Defense’s replacement electronic health record, starts rolling out next month.

Expect attention to now shift to other priorities on DHA’s plate. I’ve written about several of these drivers recently and in earlier blogs and they are just as applicable today. But a couple of recent policy changes and developments are shaping the future of military health.

Read more of this post

The Genesis of a New Military Health System

Lloyd McCoy Jr.DHITSConf_090616By Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD Manager

One of the biggest IT projects in all of the Department of Defense (DOD) is the upcoming MHS Genesis, the military’s new electronic health record – set to go live in early December.

MHS stands for the Military Health System, which is comprised of the Program Executive Office for Defense Healthcare Management Systems, the Defense Health Agency, and the individual medical commands that fall under the service branches.

While much attention and focus will understandably be on the rollout of MHS Genesis in the coming months, there are other pockets of IT initiatives within MHS that will shape defense health IT for years to come.

Read more of this post

Top 3 Procurement Priorities for the New Defense Health Agency

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

Those controlling the purse strings within the three-month old Defense Health Agency (DHA) are especially keen on shared services and opportunities to consolidate and are looking hard at chances for eliminating redundancies as it seeks to bring under one roof functions previously decentralized. The agency is also looking for ways to update its antiquated technology to increase efficiencies and cost savings. If you can identify opportunities and offer solutions along these lines, you are ahead of the pack.  Here are the top three procurement priorities for DHA:

1.  Upgrading its electronic health records

Last week, the DHA issued a RFP to maintain and incrementally upgrade its electronic health record (EHR) system, which is the world’s largest. The contract, worth up to $1 billion, sheds light on DHA’s timeline for entirely replacing the massive electronic health record system. The sustainment contract extends through 2018 making it likely DHA’s new EHR won’t come online until 2018/2019. The decision to extend the Pentagon’s current electronic health record for a few more years comes after the VA and DOD agreed last year to stop work on making their legacy systems interoperable. DOD decided it needed to focus on replacing its legacy healthcare IT system first. Both agencies though still plan to make their respective electronic health records interoperable. It’s worth noting that last fall DOD issued an award to continue providing systems integration and engineering support toward the interoperability effort.

2.  Consolidation

Infrastructure, portfolio rationalization, and application consolidation will be especially important over the next two fiscal years (FY14-15) as DHA seeks to bring together redundant IT functions that existed under the old Military Health System framework under its shared services model.  Also, in the absence of a proper integrated Electronic Health Record, the agency is looking for ways to enhance how VA and DOD’s respective infrastructures can better correlate patient data.

3. Mobility

Expect mobile platforms and applications to see widespread use throughout the defense medical complex. There are bound to be a lot of opportunities here given that the agency serves almost 10 million people through about 700 hospitals, clinics, and medical centers, not to mention medical facilities on naval ships. Before DHA dives into BYOD and mobility adoption, mobile security solutions will be of paramount importance.

What you need to know about the new Defense Health Agency

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by 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.

%d bloggers like this: