Melinda Pitchford joined DSS in 2019, and is a Federal contracting expert in the fields of health IT, the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense (DoD). She began her career as a contractor working out of the VA’s Strategic Acquisition Center (SAC), evaluating proposals for Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) and cost realism and has been a capture manager for the past six years.This conversation took place in July and has been edited for length.
Q: Tell us About the Current IT Needs at Defense Health Agency (DHA), and the Value that Industry Experience Working with the VA can Provide
There is an IT transformation happening at DHA, which mirrors what the VA has done in the past and is currently doing today. This includes modernizing its systems to take advantage of new technology while simultaneously safely supporting care services. Moving to a centralized EHR and embracing a more standardized approach to the overall technology footprint is also a big part of this effort.
With this in mind, industry members that have a depth of experience working with the VA can help bring these IT goals to life, and further advance the mission at DHA. For example, expertise in everything from interoperability, revenue cycles, regulatory compliance to improving the care quality should all be considered, as these elements will be priority areas for DHA.
This also extends beyond leveraging IT for enhancing care quality to include solutions that enhance business processes that support clinical, financial, logistical and administrative objectives.
Q: Overall, Tell us about Some of the Key Health IT needs of DHA Today
One of the biggest needs is ensuring interoperability between EHR systems between the VA and DHA, which is a major priority for the DoD/VA Interagency Program Office (IPO).
In addition, as with any Government or defense agency, there is the rise in popularity of IoT, cloud and other cutting-edge solutions, which will also likely come to the forefront at DHA. Of course, embracing these newer frontiers will also require the need for enhanced cybersecurity.
Overall, the need to quickly provide services to Veterans and active Service Members will always be present – reinforcing the need for a balance between rapid innovation adoption and cyber needs.
Q: What can Industry Members do to help DHA in this IT Transformation?
Many industry members can bring a wide-range of solutions and services to DHA – there’s no shortage of innovators in the marketplace. Though, I think it’s important to consider working with partners that have staff members who were former care providers – as opposed to being a company of technologists that offer technical solutions for the Healthcare industry.
Ultimately, the quality of care that is provided is always paramount. As such, understanding and developing solutions by caregivers for caregivers helps in the development of solutions that are intuitive and enhance the overall workflows for all clinicians and caregivers.
In addition, there is plenty of opportunity for industry members to partner up and align their solutions and expertise in ways that provide unprecedented level of innovations for DHA.
Q: What is the Best Balance Between Custom and Integrated Solutions for DHA?
I think a solid mix between the two can help drive innovation and mission success at DHA. Though the partner eco-system in the marketplace is vast with a tremendous amount of opportunities for companies to come together to create the most comprehensive solutions for DHA.
For example, we integrate everything from third-party services, APIs and actual partner products, and have processed knowledge to accelerate the integration of products into a central EHR, and beyond.
This includes everything from project management, business analysis, software development release and testing, to systems integration, change management, data migration, infrastructure and training.
Q: Anything Else to Add?
Sure. I would just like to add that we are excited about all of the opportunities to help support mission success at DHA through innovation.
I will also be at DHITS 2019, and look forward to seeing our customers, partners, and friends at the conference!
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About Melinda Pitchford
Melinda Pitchford’s background includes a degree in Education and Accounting. After teaching for a few years in the Public Schools System, Melinda decided to work as a contractor with the VA Strategic Acquisition Center in Frederick, MD evaluating proposals. She moved into Contract Administration and Business Development with Delex Systems specializing in DoD Training and Intelligence. Melinda then moved to Adams Communications working on VA T4 where she received her Association of Proposal Manager Professionals (APMP) Certification before moving to B3 Group working focusing on T4NG. She recently joined DSS as a Senior Capture Manager/Business Development. Melinda is also well-known in the industry for making the best cupcakes!