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Recently, FedHealthIT’s President, Susan Sharer, had the opportunity to sit down with Tom Hines, Chief Architect, Networks & Security at Defense Health Agency to discuss the Agency’s D2D Program and Med-COI.

What is the Medical Community of Interest (Med-COI)?

There are many different views of Med-COI depending on who you are speaking with. For instance, those involved with MHS GENESIS will say it is their transport architecture while the facilities team will say it is their standardized architecture to bring about consolidation and allow them to meet their NDAA requirements.

Med-COI is, in fact, a global network and security architecture. Under the prior infrastructure coalition, we didn’t own all of the support activities and it was a program people chose to subscribe to. Now, if something is part of DHA it is part of Med-COI, it is our network. If we think of it in terms of effort, of mission, it is where we ‘fight’, where we do business and everything else that we do.

How Does D2D Fit In?

Desktop to Datacenter (D2D) is about getting all of the sites from where they were to a place that uses a standardized, central system that is common to all. Historically DoD would talk about enclaves. Areas like military support and medical were considered from a different security context. Med-COI is one global, common path to internal and external services no matter where they are and no matter the size so the same view applies to a community of ten as to a community of 10,000. With that common shared view comes incredible efficiencies and an amazing opportunity to do more with the same.

What is Included in the D2D Program’s Core Set of Shared Services?

D2D is all about bringing all of the variations that exist into the field under one umbrella; bringing it home. It includes Network Services Management; Directory Services Enterprise Management; Desktop as a Service (DaaS) which breaks down into seven standards for different types of desktops; and Community Storage and Management.

How does D2D/Med-COI Support MHS GENESIS and What are Some of the Critical Dependencies?

Within DoD/ VA joint facilities, the desktops now have a combination of VA and DoD applications, some of which are integrated to emulate MHS GENESIS but that are actually based in VistA and AHLTA which are unique systems. With the full rollout of MHS GENESIS those unique applications will all go away, and with them the 67 sharing agreements that have been required across the enterprise.

The previous issue with VistA was that we didn’t have one organization, we had seven and each had unique capabilities. When we tried to deploy a centrally managed system without a standard infrastructure, without a single identity and management system in place, of course it wouldn’t do what we needed it to.

If you look back to the language of the RFP for MHS GENESIS, it assumed Med-COI and other systems would exist when MHS GENESIS was deployed. MHS GENESIS depends on reliable infrastructure and services. That is what determines its success from a user perspective. Phase one of the deployment has been relatively quiet because Med-COI was in place and the result is that nothing dramatic happened.

Our job in implementing Med-COI was to get the infrastructure into place and then to get out of the way so change management could move forward focused on training, on changing workflows, and on that adoption.

What Progress has Been Made with D2D/Med-CIO Implementation?

The new network had already been fielded to all global Army and Navy sites a year ago. As of October 1 we began taking over Air Force MTFs but that was largely from an administrative perspective and we’re about 30 percent done. Unlike the other agencies, Air Force already operated under a centralized system so the “lift” was less than you might assume.

Full D2D migration has been completed at 17 sites and is tied to the rollout of MHS GENESIS. Right now we’re staying ahead of MHS GENESIS by about six months but we’ll be fully complete within two years and well ahead of full deployment.

How Will Med-COI be Used to Meet the DoD Cloud Computing Requirements?

Cloud migration is driven by an initiative asking for a look at all computer capabilities and opportunities for optimization. We have a footprint in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and are testing for additional applications.

We’re also involved with milCloud 2.0 which is a DISA private cloud initiative. We’ve stood up capability there and added that Med-COI function into DISA.

We’ll continue to evaluate workloads, to look at variations, at unique storage requirements and move capabilities as is appropriate, also looking at levels of tiered storage. We already have a lot of Tier 2 and Tier 3.

About Tom Hines

Thomas Hines, Director, Engineering and Technology Transformation, Defense Health Agency, poses for his official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Dec., 17, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King)

Mr. Tom Hines is the Director of Engineering and Technology Transformation and serves as a Senior Advisor to the Defense Health Agency (DHA) Chief Information Officer (CIO) under a term appointment as a Highly Qualified Expert (HQE).  Mr. Hines advises the DHA CIO on the technical strategy, business operations, and security architecture of information technology infrastructure, networks, and platforms supporting the global Department of Defense healthcare enterprise.  Mr. Hines is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and has more than 35 years of experience in engineering, information systems consulting, and the technical management of large scale technology programs. 

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