Digital health exchange #healthxchange innovation session

This morning I am at the digital health exchange panel session in Arlington, VA.

Panel Moderator: Mark Naggar, Project Manager, HHS Buyers Club (HHS IDEA Lab) – Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Department of Health and Human Services (confirmed)

  1. Dr. Neil Evans is a board-certified, Co-Director of Connected Health, aligned under the Office of Informatics and Analytics, in the Veterans Health Administration within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and practicing primary care internist at the Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Evans co-leads the effort to improve services to Veterans, their families and Caregivers by increasing access, fostering continuity and promoting patient empowerment through electronic health technologies wth a focus on mobile and digital health.  (confirmed)
  2. Kathryn Wetherby serves as a Public Health Advisor at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)where she leads large health information technology projects and contracts. Ms. Wetherby has over 16 years of experience in both the public and private sectors; including implementation of large scale, enterprise-wide health information technology systems, mobile technologies, standards, strategic planning and organization and operational change. (confirmed)
  3. Justin Woodson is an Associate Professor, Uniformed Services University Health Services (USUHS), the institution charged with training, educating and preparing officers and leaders to directly support the Military Health System, the National Security and National Defense Strategies of the United States and the readiness of our Armed Forces. (confirmed)
  4. Joe Klosky, Senior Technical Advisor, Food and Drug Administration.   Having previously served as the Chief Technology Officer for the FDA in 2007, Mr. Klosky has supported a number of initiatives across HHS, including a detail to the to the NIH CIO and Chief Enterprise Architect. Mr. Klosky recently rejoined the FDA as a senior technical advisor in support of HHS wide work groups and projects. (confirmed)


The panelist roles and perspective:

Dr.Neil Evans – connected health covers all technology outside the face to face engagement for veterans.

Connected health runs the VA innovation competitions.

Kate Wetherby – leads health it projects including mobile apps and portals and solutions for outreach in rural areas.

Justin Woodson – innovating by “getting out of the box”. Justin is based in the military medical school. Role in innovation is to create unique experiences at the intersection of military and academia. Building interactive experiences.

Joe Klosky – FDA: troubleshooter – “into the breach”. Using Amazon cloud at FDA. Handling very sensitive data.

Mark Naggar – HHS is trying to develop a more collaborative and innovative ecosystem. HHS has its own internal accelerator.

Q: what organizations do the panelists admire for innovation?

Justin W: private organizations have more flexibility to acquire talent and apply it. Organizations like Google are willing to take risks.

Neil E: Procter & Gamble mixes employees across divisions. They expected people to take time out of their normal duties to mingle with colleagues from other divisions and to share ideas.

Justin W/Neil E: medicine tends to work in silos. More effort is needed to make inter-disciplinary interactions happen. This has to tap the people in the field that are doing the work.

Joe K:  use commercial tools to help collaboration happen. Also mingle commercial tools to create new solutions.

Kate W: combatting the “we have always done it this way”. You need to have people to drive the change.

Mark N: HHS has implemented the entrepreneur-in-Residence program. Unfortunately they are restricted from bringing people from for-profit companies. But people are trying to figure out how to do this.

Q: where have you gone from concept to execution successfully – or what have you learned from a failure to get to execution.

Neil E: VA has entrepreneur in residence. Last year they were able to partner with Walgreens to help veterans get their flu vaccine and have the data fly in to the Vista EHR.  After a pilot in 2013 this was rolled out across the country this year.

Choose a project with a hard deadline. Eg. There is a deadline for flu vaccines.

Even simple projects can require innovative approaches.

The va mail pharmacy implemented a system to allow veterans to track their medications through the mail system.

Justin W: innovation does not have to be new. It can be a mashup of existing solutions to solve a problem. Taking existing ideas in to a new realm.

Kate W: Consent to Share – working on interoperability. Dealing with privacy and security regulations. Working on data segmentation privacy and consent to share. Parse the medical record and segment it to allow the patient to share sub-sections of their health record. There are issues with sharing certain health data. Variations at the state level.

SAMSHA has built this in to a PHR. Cerner and nexgen have done similar work. HHS has shown the direction and is encouraging others to build on what they have done for data segmentation.

Joe K: FDA is at every custom station. It is a massive undertaking. Working on a risk based model. Applying technology eg. Forensic technology lab in Cleveland. Technology is being used to handle globalization despite budget constraints.

Q: what barrier would you remove to improve the path to innovation?:

Justin W: change the manning model.

Joe K: the procurement process around innovation while complying with FAR

Neil E: in IT rules applied for production but need simpler!more agile approaches for pilots.

Kate W: workforce development to prep people for technology use.

Justin W:  focus on leadership development that includes innovation as a leadership responsibility.

Neil E: VA annual innovation competition. It creates community. Ideas get voted on and commented on. The comment process creates communities of interest.

Q: How do small businesses with innovative ideas partner with the agencies.

HHS has s&i framework committed and other work groups. There are a lot of open forums and information on HHS web sites.

Big challenge is to educate and communicate to the workforce about new innovations.

Kate W: project Echo – using Telehealth for workforce training.


Mark Scrimshire
HHS Entrepreneur-in-Residence at CMS building BlueButton Plus for Medicare.
Mark is available for challenging assignments at the intersection of Health and Technology using Big Data, Mobile and Cloud Technologies. If you need help to move, or create, your health applications in the cloud let’s talk.
Stay up-to-date: Twitter @ekivemark
Disclosure: I began as a Patient Engagement Advisor and am now CTO to Personiform, Inc. and their platform. Medyear is a powerful free tool that helps you collect, organize and securely share health information, however you want.  Manage your own health records today. Medyear: Less hassle. Better care.

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