Mike Leff serves as managing director for the federal civilian health business at Accenture and leads programs for agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services‘ umbrella.
The nearly three-decade industry veteran previously held a similar role at Lockheed Martin‘s information systems and global solutions business, where he worked with HHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs, among other clients.
His Lockheed career also includes service as chief technology officer for the health and human services business line.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Leff overviews his career trajectory from aerospace to healthcare and the developments he is most looking forward to in the healthcare sector. He also discusses Accenture’s acquisition of ASM Research how the company helps health agencies use big data and analytics tools.
ExecutiveBiz: What is your current role with Accenture, and how does it relate to your previous executive experience?
Mike Leff: I joined Accenture Federal Services in February 2012, and my initial role was to develop and implement our federal health strategy across our defense and civilian portfolios within the federal business. Today, I lead our civilian health business, which comprises the Social Security Administration and various operating divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services to include the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Food and Drug Administration, Office of the National Coordinator, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I began my career in the aerospace industry, designing and developing command, control, and communication intelligence systems for the Department of Defense. I then moved from the aerospace industry into a number of different contracting positions over the years and landed in my first position in healthcare in the mid ’90s with a startup company responsible for developing, designing, selling and marketing electronic health records and practice management software for hospitals, providers and physicians.
ExecutiveBiz: What do you like the most about working in the healthcare sector?
Mike Leff: What excites me most about working in the healthcare sector is being in an industry that is at the intersection of innovation and transformation. I believe that 2013 is really going to be a seminal year for this industry, particularly on the federal health side, as our clients continue implementing the Affordable Care Act to promote the use of electronic health records, stand up health information exchanges and implement health insurance marketplace.
ExecutiveBiz: How will the ASM Research acquisition affect your healthcare operations?
Mike Leff: ASMR was an acquisition made to expand our defense and military health business. They are a company that is highly regarded and respected, and I think it’s going to add a significant amount of capability and talent that we can leverage as we look to extend our services and capability with those clients.
ExecutiveBiz: What developments are you most excited about in the healthcare sector at large?
Mike Leff: Accenture is in a great position to lead and drive innovation in the health space leveraging its strong credentials and capabilities in the global, commercial, state and local markets. The ability to project that capability, both on the federal side, as well as the state, local, and commercial side is what really differentiates Accenture in this space.
There’s a tremendous amount of activity right now with respect to the stand‑up and operationalizing of the health insurance market places. In addition, I expect we’re going to see an increased demand for things like shared services, cloud with a focus on security and privacy, program integrity, new healthcare delivery and payment models, and increased focus and awareness on promoting and protecting the public health to include food, drug, safety and biosurveillance.
ExecutiveBiz: What is the most common need that your customers mention to you, and how is Accenture working to address that need?
Mike Leff: As we meet with our clients across the health space, one of the most common needs that we see is driving efficiencies within our clients’ organizations while increasing productivity, given the constrained resources and budget pressures that our clients are operating under.
While those create strong headwinds, I believe that this is the kind of environment that really suits Accenture, because we can create market opportunity to drive value by leveraging our consulting technology and outsourcing capabilities to help our federal customers really transform their business models and help them increase their operating efficiencies and deliver on performance‑based outcomes.
ExecutiveBiz: What role is technology playing in that transformation and how is Accenture working to bring that technology into the federal space?
Mike Leff: I think the innovations that are going to allow us to drive capability and really help our clients move forward in terms of supporting their mission in the healthcare space are things like the better application of advanced analytics, predictive modeling, and big data with the torrent of health information that is available and becoming more available every day.
Our healthcare system is becoming much more instrumented and intelligent. Being able to harvest that data and be able to link everything from drug discovery to treatment to leveraging the information to better manage population health and to be able to help providers and payers provide healthcare that is more value‑based and outcome‑driven is a huge opportunity.
Things like analytics, big data, and even social media can play a key role; those are the kinds of things we’re looking at with our clients.