To wrap up 2017, FedHealthIT recognized 100 individuals who were nominated by their peers for driving change and advancement in the Federal Health Information Technology Market. Some of the common themes among those who were selected included the desire and willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, to go above and beyond, to drive innovation, and to give back to the larger Federal Health IT and Consulting community.

Over the course of 2018, we’ll speak with many of these industry leaders and will share with you their insights on how the industry may continue to move forward and advice about getting involved.

Darrin Washington is Vice President with CACI International Inc, and also recognized as one of the FedHealthIT100. Darrin shared his insights on the best way to get involved in the industry, and how to find partnerships with companies like CACI. He also offers advice to those in Government on how to take advantage of networking and connections.

Where do You See the Market Going?

Both commercial and Federal Healthcare are moving to more turnkey solutions and in many cases, turning to COTS. While this does create efficiencies, we must understand that the unique needs of Government will still require custom programming and individual applications. Since commercial Healthcare doesn’t do everything the Government does, there will be an ongoing need for software and IT components in the space that aren’t derived from COTS products.

Since commercial Healthcare doesn’t do everything the Government does, there will be an ongoing need for software and IT components in the space that aren’t derived from COTS products.

I expect that the DoD/VA Cerner roll out will define a software baseline across the Federal enterprise that will generate consistency and allow us the opportunity to focus on things that are unique to the Federal Government.

We are still facing a manpower shortage in Healthcare across the country. It’s easy to get lost in technology but at the heart of it, we must be focused on how technology can increase productivity, how it can impact the Veteran, the warfighter, the patient. We must understand and look for the ways technology improves the quality of Healthcare. If we don’t constantly innovate to increase our productivity, we won’t be able to keep up with the looming manpower shortages of the future.

I also believe there is an opportunity in this to focus on population health and health informatics in terms of meaningful use. At some point, some day, we will all sit in a hospital for one reason or another. I don’t want to be in that position thinking that I didn’t do everything I could, that I ignored the impact at the patient level that will affect us all. I want to know that I tried.

What Advice Would You Give to Companies Looking to Partner with CACI?

Personally, I’m easy to find and I’m always willing to listen. I’m at almost all HIMSS meetings and available on LinkedIn.

If you don’t want to approach me directly, understand that CACI is always open to partnering where it makes sense, but generally early in the process. If we know you, know your product, and can understand how you can add value, we are always interested. A small company’s best chance at teaming with us is to approach us early in the process, with knowledge of the customer and a solid value proposition.

What Recommendations Would You Make to the Federal Government?

Government has a tall job ahead.
Government has a tall job ahead. I’m pleased to see that funding has opened up a bit and that much of the leadership is taking Healthcare seriously. I would say now that consistency is important and listening to industry is important. Government has become more transparent, and is requesting more from industry, but in a way that still requires formal written submissions and takes time. I would recommend that Government continue to build on transparency and openness. Sometimes it’s okay to have a reverse industry day where the Government can just open up and have an informal conversation about how things are going and where they are going to need help. I hope to see more Government leaders that are trying to understand what they want and need. As part of achieving this, they could attend more industry forums and ask questions. I would recommend that Government, for instance, attend the monthly HIMSS-NCA Chapter meetings. We really try hard to have great topics and besides, it’s free for Government employees to attend.

What Organizations do You Recommend People get Involved with?

HIMSS-NCA (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society – National Capital Area Chapter), which is the only Federally focused HIMSS Chapter in the country… in Federal Health, this is the organization that is closest to the space.
Personally, I’m especially close to HIMSS-NCA (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society – National Capital Area Chapter), which is the only Federally focused HIMSS Chapter in the country. I’ve been involved for 14 years and, though other organizations may have a bit of a different twist, I would say that in Federal Health, this is the organization that is closest to the space.

I started with the organization as a board member at large and over the years came to take over the treasurer role. As a board member in general, we discuss a lot of Federal Health issues and how industry can have an impact. We have grown over time and our influence has grown as well so that we have become somewhat of a conduit between industry and the Government to communicate.

How do You Define Success?

When I first got involved in the Federal Health sector, I naturally evaluated my success based on wins and losses. Over the years I realized that at the end of the day, success is about providing our customers, the people who directly serve the soldiers, the warfighters and the Veterans, with what they need. Once you do that, the wins will come naturally. Defining success now is about understanding the functional business requirements, being an expert in the field and sometimes, a friend. I find that, even if I can’t personally provide my customers with what they need, I can connect them with someone who can help them. That kind of engagement has brought me respect and ultimately defined my real success: helping the Veterans and the warfighters. I’ve been at his for a long time and have spent a lot of years learning the functional business at the DHA. The hardest lesson I learned was that it’s not always about technology. You must also understand the goals of the customer before you can add the right mix of technology or talent and that’s the special ingredient I try to add to my engagements. It’s a slow process but I sleep well at night knowing that I took the time to understand the customer’s needs and did the right thing.

How do You Overcome Challenges?

I’ve been in the Healthcare space for 18 years now; long before it was a national issue. I’ve learned there are differences between challenges and annoyances. An annoyance is something like budgets which you can’t do anything about so just have to deal with. Our challenge, always, is ultimately achieving the long-term goal of helping the Veteran, the warfighter, and delivering more of them home at the end of their service with a better quality of life. If we can focus on that as the ultimate challenge, the ultimate success, the end goal we all work for, then the rest is just noise.

What Keeps You Up at Night?

I’m concerned that high cost is driving Healthcare towards becoming a privilege. I think everyone should have access to quality Healthcare and I think that, as technology is applied, as more service is available in the home, and as Government takes a leading role, the cost will come down. We have to look at the things that create cost without benefit and break away those layers in order to make Healthcare affordable and accessible to more people.

Federal Healthcare has come a long way in the past 10 years but we still have a long way to go. If we look at some of the innovations being tested today, Healthcare will look radically different once these projects are out of the lab and into patient’s hands. We should find out that we can do a lot more with a lot less in the next ten years.

Darrin is a seasoned professional with 30 years of Federal IT industry experience including more than 18 years of business development experience within the DoD and the Federal Civilian sector. He is currently a Vice President – Client Executive for Healthcare at CACI International, specializing in the Military Health System and Veterans Affairs. Over the past 17 years he has focused on the Federal Healthcare Industry. He is one of the most respected industry leads in Federal Healthcare with excellent relationships at the Defense Health Agency(DHA), all Military Health services, SPAWAR, as well the Department of Veterans Affairs(VA).

 

 

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