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DHA Calls on Industry to ‘Make IT Boring Again’

Leadership is taking a behind-the-scenes approach to IT in the delivery of health care.

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Top leadership at the Defense Health Agency want industry partners to “make IT boring again” by being anything but boring.

Clarifying this notion, some of them explained the primary goal is to make IT a utility supporting the defense health care system from the backend in a seamless manner, said DHA Solution Delivery Division Chief Francisco Dominicci, Chief Architect Tom Hines and Defense Healthcare Management Systems Program Executive Officer Bill Tinston at the AFCEA Health IT Summit last week.

“Our objective is to make IT boring again. It needs to be a utility,” Hines said. “We need to turn more of the capabilities into standard services so that they can come together very, very efficiently.”

“You can think of it like an amusement park — like Disneyland,” Tinston added, likening IT to the power and infrastructure that run an amusement park so end users, or park attendees, can enjoy the rides or end results. “From an IT professional perspective, what we really want to do is make them, the subterranean folks at Disney, walk around and make sure that the experiences are good.”

Tinston — who leads DHMS in modernizing its electronic health record — said making IT a smooth background utility is essential for driving the mission of health care delivery across the military, and it is important for both industry and federal IT professionals to keep that in mind in creating technological solutions.

“We need to change our mindset, and we need to start thinking business drives technology, not technology driving business,” Tinston explained. “We need to start transforming ourselves and thinking differently.”

Along those lines, Tinston, Hines and Dominicci stressed that getting to a point of modernizing and optimizing DHA’s IT assets and capabilities so they run smoothly for providers and patients requires immense work and creative input from within their teams and from industry partners.

In other words, make IT as easy as flipping a light switch, the officials said, by pitching the best technological solutions to DHA leadership.

“Be creative and be different,” Dominicci said. “For me, I want you to solve the problem. … We don’t know it all. We need help, as we move and transition through this.”

Hines and Tinston echoed Dominicci’s values, adding that they want to hear ideas that they have not considered yet. Hines said he often sits in meetings with industry partners often explaining the situation to them rather than hearing solutions from partners to overcome those challenges.

The officials said that it is critical that all players maintain this perspective as they take on DHA’s various technological priorities, which range from standing up the Cerner Millennium EHR, maintaining legacy system capabilities as DHA transitions to its modern IT assets and systems, and ensuring security throughout all of these activities and transitions.

Tinston also said he’s been trying to create a collaborative environment with his team and industry to bring those creative solutions to the forefront and hopefully structure the IT and EHRs DHA needs to run the perfect “Disneyland” experience for its patients and providers.

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