G2X recently spoke with Kyle Campbell, Fulcrum’s Growth Executive for Federal Health, and a former CIO at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, about 21st Century technology, true integration, acquisition challenges and the changing Government landscape.
21st Century Technology
After serving over 21 years as a US Army Medical Service Corps Officer/Military Health CIO with the US Army, and nearly a decade in industry, my simplified definition of “modern technology” includes both new technologies and a reutilization of some of the legacy technologies which may not have been fully integrated in the past.
This experience has given me a sense of optimism about the direction Healthcare is taking, with newer technologies offering new tools and solutions for medical professionals. I think that by selecting the best attributes or “best of breed” from many sources or technologies, and then properly integrating them, we can find real solutions and practices across the Federal Healthcare community.
Among the new technologies, there are several I am most excited about. Internet of Things (IoT), as the technical solutions continue to evolve over time and the operational requirements become clearer, will be a very important new technology within Federal Healthcare. A concern for implementing IoT will be the cost associated with the solutions if they are not implemented or tested adequately. Industry and Government should consider approaching IoT by degrees of risk and what is possible ‘now’ while remaining continuously vigilant on trending and newer technologies yet to be developed or approved for military environments.
Cloud solutions and smart phones present an interesting relationship within the Healthcare field. Telehealth used to be considered very intrusive, but now, people can use their own device, something they are familiar with, to interact with medical professionals thousands of miles away.
Robotics and embedded technology are also very exciting. One of Fulcrum’s recent acquistions, The PTR Group, are industry leaders and developers in the field of robotics and embedded technology. They are working with agencies (non-health) to pinpoint specific usages and outcomes while applying technologies and their robotic knowledge to assist doctors and surgeons in the Healthcare field.
There are also areas of untapped potential in the use of unmanned aircraft and drones, both in combat zones and elsewhere. Unmanned and drone aircraft have potential for delivering medical supplies, blood products and other utilities; or for functions including evacuation, transporting medical staff to forward sites etc. I think you’re going to see a lot of significant evolution in the combat space, and as that happens, expanded potential in the fixed facility and civilian facility industries.
All About Integration
We also have to recognize that sometimes a fax machine, paper and pencil are still the best technologies. Just because we can collect data doesn’t make it measurable, meaningful or actionable. Technology has to meet some type of appropriate demand or purpose in Healthcare. I would suggest the drivers of technology decisions should be based on better, faster, safer patient outcomes, or a more cost-efficient means to deliver better and safer patient outcomes.
Optimal or maximum integration is the key to success. Most MTFs have multiple technologies that are generally not fully integrated. Just some examples are Real Time Location System (RTLS) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID); temperature monitoring (for lab or medical items that are temperature sensitive); ‘wandering patients’ systems; newborn patient tags; nurse call systems; and Wayfinding. There are dozens of current operational legacy platforms that could be assessed for improved outcomes while delivering safer, better patient care with cost savings within our Federal Healthcare system.
In order to move forward in a way that is truly effective, there has to be an improving and continuous partnership, transparency and collaboration between Government and industry. DHA has done a good job in the past few years, hosting industry day events and proof of concept events that support better acquisition practices. However, while strides have been made, there are still challenges in the process that don’t allow for the purchase of life-saving technologies in the Federal Healthcare arena. Events such as industry days can and should continue to be used to facilitate appropriate transparency, and they must be done with advance notice to allow for Government to prepare and industry to respond.
The Government Healthcare acquisition process is really the biggest pole in the tent. I believe one approach might be an increased use of multiple award IDIQs for specific technologies or services. This would create increased flexibility to streamline the process of procurement and eliminate some of the current challenges.
On the industry side, we must work together to leverage partnerships, to consider joint ventures and even merger and acquisition opportunities.
Changing Government Landscape
In CY 2019, leading into and through the 2020 election, I expect there will be a reduction in funding within the Healthcare arena for new technologies and implementation, but Federal agencies have always found efficient ways to perform for their customers, regardless of funding. I am definitely going to watch how key programs and funding initiatives influence capital investments in technology over the next few years.
That aside, this is a great time to be working in the field of Healthcare, whether in Government or industry. Increased transparency and ensuring both sides have the opportunity for discussion and comments that will reduce barriers and offer clarity to issues/problems will allow us to focus on long-term objectives, strategies and missions that are our common goal.
Headquartered in Centreville, Virginia, Fulcrum Co., is a leading mid-tier Government services company that applies advanced technology solutions and unique mission expertise to solve customers’ complex mission problems. For over 30 years, Fulcrum has provided highly-specialized offerings in Advanced Engineering, Cyber Security Operations, Software and Big Data Engineering, and Intelligence and Special Operations Support.