By Heather Seftel-Kirk, FedHealthIT Contributing Author
Earlier this year, FedHealthIT announced its Top 100. Nominated and chosen by peers, these individuals have been recognized for driving change and advancement, for their willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, and for giving back to the larger Federal Health IT and Consulting community.
This week we spoke with Brooke Patterson, Senior Vice President of Government Services at ARDX about changing the way contractors deal with government, breaking down walls, and the importance of recognizing and passing on mentorship.
Patterson is also involved with Girls in Technology, the National Contractor Management Association (NCMA), Women in Technology, The Center Club of Baltimore, and the Project Management Institute. She is also part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) educational series.
We all rely on each other
Patterson says she has been aware since the beginning that she didn’t get to where she is alone and she didn’t learn all she knows now in one day. She says there will always be gaps in knowledge with new people coming in and that we all must rely on each other. “That’s where mentoring comes in. Someone did it for me and I need to pass that along.”
She says the political side of the industry can be challenging and that a lot of individuals new to the field lack the understanding that is required. “There is an onslaught of new people coming in who are eager and want to be part of the industry but they have to know what Healthcare IT is, what politics are involved, and what the role of the contractor in all of that is in order to succeed, and to support the industry.”
It is important, for instance, to be able to listen and to put the client first and that means understanding the various levels of industry and knowing the right questions to ask.
Taking the focus away from the contract
Patterson says many government agencies are used to being on the defensive because there is a tendency among contractors to focus on winning the contract, and then on trying to push a specific product on government. Instead, she says, industry must learn to listen to the client, to find out what the client needs to be happy.
“We need to change the way we deal with government, to remember that ultimately what we are doing is about the patient, the constituent. At the end of the day we serve the beneficiary of health care and that is part of what needs to be communicated and taught to strengthen the industry moving forward.”
Who don’t you know in the room
Part of that involves spending time with micro companies and others who want to grow but don’t yet have a footprint, guiding and mentoring them on the best way to get involved with companies such as CMS, what they need to do or have, or the best way to approach the relationship.
NCMA has helped her tremendously with networking. Patterson says it provides an opportunity for all industry resources to be together at once, which leads to intel gathering, networking, social interactions. “The lunch and learns they sponsor are also great to hear information on government contracting. They always bring in great speakers that give an insider’s insight into what is going on with the government. NCMA is definitely a tool I rely on to help me do my job.”
She says her own networking and volunteer opportunities have evolved with time, word of mouth, and a willingness to help. Mentoring she says, helps everyone, because it improves the quality of people dealing with government, changes the conversation, and breaks down walls.