By Heather Seftel-Kirk, FedHealthIT Magazine Contributing Author
Sean Kelley is a seasoned health IT executive with more than 25 years’ experience in Navy medicine, industry, and the Department of Veteran Affairs. He recently moved to the Environmental Protection Agency in the role of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). He is a realistic and focused individual recognized for “turning around problem areas and forward thinking.” Kelley also supports the broader mission of securing positive change for the health IT market as president of the Government Information Technology Executive Council (GITEC) whose annual GITEC Summit takes place April 2-4 at the Westin Annapolis. Here, senior levels of government and industry will come together to “focus on the continued transition and transformation surrounding the development, implementation, management and use of information technology for mission-critical functions.” Kelley has also been recognized as one of FedHealthIT’s Top 100 for 2016.
Sean Kelley became involved with GITEC during a time in which he was transitioning from a military position to a government civilian, looking for a chance to better understand the civilian space he had entered. What he found was a group of quality people committed to servitude and the vision of improving the Federal Health IT marketplace.
Kelley says it isn’t just about improving the marketplace for the industry itself, tackling the day to day and long-term challenges to be solved, it is about the bigger picture of who that healthcare industry supports and improving the access and experience of those people.
The annual GITEC Summit, he says, is just one place to start and have conversations. “There is certainly a paradigm shift taking place and the opportunity to bring together senior executives from both sides for a real discussion is invaluable. This year’s conference has a great health platform, including a look at IoT, IT consumerism, the proliferation of medical devices and the impact on patient experiences.”
Part of that shift is due to the recognition that IT consumerization has blurred the reality of the line between the level of service expected from companies like Amazon, Groupon, Uber, and the federal government. The old idea that something is ‘good enough for government’ doesn’t wash he says when you understand that at the end of the chain are real people whose real quality of life can be impacted by decisions made; tax payers who directly fund the industry and deserve better. Taxpayers want individualized high quality experience in the palm of their hand and we in the Federal Government have to deliver it.
From the time he joined GITEC as an associate, and as he worked his way up through the organization to his current role, he was impressed by the dedication of the people around him, whose only take away was the contribution they were making to the industry as a whole. “You quickly begin to see the importance of giving back through professional involvement. If you aren’t active in some way, if you choose not to get involved, you may look back on your profession at some point in time and realize it didn’t go the direction it could have.”
While GITEC’s annual summit works to match solutions with a platform for the conversations that will help influence where the marketplace goes next, efforts from within are focused on involving and engaging the next generations of leaders. Kelley says an increasing social media platform has been just one initiative, along with engaging already notable young talent, in an effort to continue to build for the future.
Kelley says there are two sides to youth engagement that must be recognized. From the perspective of those in senior and leadership roles must come the understanding that engaging youth in volunteerism, that mentoring them through opportunities for extra curricular involvement, is the way to build and mentor and shape the workforce of the future.
From the youth side, the often described pragmatic millennials, there must be clear benefit. “Young people are confident but that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from exposure from leaders and senior executives to gain from their knowledge and insights. It is often through volunteer roles, through giving back, that young people can gain intimate time in a relaxed setting, with the very leaders they need to connect with.”
Kelley believes that GITEC can be an unofficial dream internship opportunity that allows young people to grow and mature in their profession, while at the same time, they give back to the greater community of the health IT marketplace, and ultimately, the even greater community of those who will benefit from those improvements.
Understanding that DC is a very congested market, and that as such, the opportunities and options for involvement are abundant, Kelley offers advice to those looking to give back. “It is important that each individual consider two things: Finding an organization that they align with in terms of focus and values; and gravitating towards your weaknesses.”
Kelley says getting involved in any way has benefit for the greater community. Where an individual has identified their personal strengths and weaknesses though, and where they choose to challenge themselves by staying away from their strengths and comfort zone by gravitating towards identified weaknesses, there is an opportunity to learn and grow personally to a greater degree.
Within many of these organizations and opportunities, Kelley says there is also often a more traditional form of giving back as well through charitable efforts. GITEC this year for instance is dedicated to supporting a veterans’ sports group (VETSPORTS.org). “When vets leave the military, they sometimes feel they have lost an ecosystem of support that is vital. This program helps veterans reintegrate back into a civilian life, network, and find lost camaraderie through sports.”
Kelley says giving back to your industry is a win-win-win. It is a win for the personal growth and mentorship opportunities it can offer; a win for the advancement and improvement potential for the industry; and in healthcare, a win for the citizens and patients ultimately served by the industry.
Government Information Technology Executive Council (GITEC) was formed in response to a June 28, 1966 White House memorandum to provide a forum and avenues through which senior level government and industry executives could share and collaborate in an open forum on Information Technology (IT) ideas, challenges, and successes. Since that time, GITEC has organized and structured an impressive array of initiatives to focus on vital and timely issues affecting the direction and future of IT, including executive seminars, workgroups, summits, and committees. For 25 years GITEC hosted the annual Information Processing Interagency Conference and since 2010, its new evolution, the GITEC Summit which brings together senior level executives from key government agencies, and an impressive group of Fortune 500 IT companies.