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.

We also recognized two individuals with Lifetime Achievement Awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award, FedHealthIT’s most prestigious award, honors leaders who have made and continue to make extraordinary contributions to the Federal Health community, making a significant and lasting national impact. These leaders have earned the respect and admiration of professional colleagues and freely engage not only with contemporaries, but also committed to maintaining a dynamic connection to all generations within Federal Health.

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.

Lieutenant General James B. Peake has had a distinguished career that began at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and led to 38 years in the military in roles from cardiothoracic surgeon to U.S. Army Surgeon General and, later, as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

We spoke with General Peake to gain his advice for Government, industry, and for new partners looking to get involved.

Where do You See the Market Going?

When talking Health IT, first we should understand that this is not a destination but a journey, and seeing desired outcomes is going to take time. Between Federal and commercial Healthcare there are many more commonalities than differences in the patients we care for and their concerns. And, in both Federal and commercial Healthcare there is an abundance of quality people there to help who want to do the right thing.

The power of the Federal Government is that it isn’t constrained by the profit motive.
The power of the Federal Government is that it isn’t constrained by the profit motive. Economic responsibility is a whole different thing, and is important to Federal Healthcare that they should be the exemplar. Across the Federal space there is an opportunity to be a good influence, to demonstrate a new way forward. If we look at the bigger picture of telemedicine for example, the VA has been leading for a long time, espousing new and better ways. I think we’re only going to see more of that leadership once the right legislation is in place and VA has the opportunity to leverage more of the commercial world.

What Advice Would You Give to Industry?

Understanding the importance of communication between industry and Federal agencies, any opportunity that exists for the sharing of ideas and to break down suspicion is a good thing. Opportunities like these can come through organizations like HIMSS, or the American Telemedicine Association, but there are many others as well.

Government is a big business and they have their own forums through which they find ways to connect so you also have to keep an eye for those, the small business conferences and so on are another opportunity to connect, to hear and to share ideas.

We all understand that the Federal procurement cycle is long, that there is changing leadership in various agencies and that it can take them a while to get in place and to learn all they need to in order to begin moving forward. While that is happening, they have to trust and rely on their staff to provide a constancy of purpose, a direction that is moving forward.

Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said that the secret to success is constancy of purpose and that really is key.

The danger in harvesting innovation is that it can bring in a thousand points of light that are not constant to the mission. If industry remains focused on the mission and what the agency is really trying to achieve, they can better help shape and direct all of those bright and shining new opportunities and really harness what is there.

What Advice Would You Give to Government?

Sharing the vision and getting feedback on that vision is important. For example, HIMSS at the national level is huge. For Government it offers the opportunity to come and go, to present papers, to share visions and goals. There is the opportunity to attend the national conference, to see what is new and evolving, to meet vendors, to seek adaptations to meet new and ongoing problems.

What Advice Would You Give to Companies Trying to Get Into the Space?

For industry, their success must be based on the success of the agency or agencies they serve; that means understanding what you can do short-term, but also how you can help and become a trusted partner for the long term. Starting out, finding teams to be involved with and partners you can work with to develop a better understanding of the process and vehicles and to gain deep domain knowledge of an agency, and then demonstrating what you can do with that deeper understanding is a good approach.

Before you can give advice to Government you have to really understand the environment in which they live.
Before you can give advice to Government you have to really understand the environment in which they live. When you’re on the Government side you can spend the whole day listening to sales pitches about one solution or another. Rather than adding to that, leverage the value of conferences (such as HIMSS or the American Telemedicine Association) and forums to get to the heart of the mission so you really understand the opportunity and where you can provide innovation and value.

How do You Define Success?

People have asked before what my legacy will be and I have to say that I’m less focused on a personal legacy than I am on seeing the mission succeed. I admire the people I have worked with over the years and am delighted to see the way they have moved on to take leadership roles in various spaces, including the VA, the military, and industry. I feel pride, not only in the titles they carry but for the leadership they are providing. They are the ones whose success is the example I would site rather than any personal legacy of mine.

What is the Secret to Addressing Challenges?

I don’t think of challenges so much as I think of opportunities. When you start out in any endeavor, the mission is there in front of you and you have to be focused on working towards that. As you rise in an organization, you have to shift roles so you aren’t as focused on accomplishing that mission yourself but instead, are empowering others to rise to the occasion. Strong leaders understand the talent and enthusiasm others can bring and work to encourage and enable that talent. Inherent in that is providing top cover, covering some risk for those working to solve complex problems.

Lieutenant General James B. Peake has had a distinguished career that began at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and led to 38 years in the military in roles from cardiothoracic surgeon to U.S. Army Surgeon General and, later, as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He has received numerous awards and commendations including the Silver and Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit. Following his retirement from the Army, his roles included Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President with Project Hope, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Medical Officer and Director with QTC Management, and now as Senior Vice President with CGI Federal. He now serves as a member on several boards, including HIMSS North America and the American Telemedicine Association.

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