“If we can start adopting standards for data and system interoperability, we will be able to make tremendous advances in understanding how we can best support the total population across America.”
EM: Let’s start with your background.
Bill Lovell: I’ve spent my adult life inside federal healthcare, starting as a laboratory scientist in the military health system. I was fortunate enough to be able to serve as a registered medical technologist and eventually assume a variety of laboratory management positions, ultimately running clinical and reference laboratories inside the military health system. I finished my Masters in Business Administration, took the CPA exam and migrated into financial management roles, where I was CFO for hospitals inside the military health system. My official title was Chief of Resource Management but it is a very typical CFO role: you manage the budget for the hospital along with the human resource management and managed care functions.
As I was going through my career as a laboratory scientist and later as a financial manager, I was fortunate to be in the professional generation that began to go digital. I got the IT bug as a functional user in deployments of the initial laboratory information systems and, eventually, our health information system for the military health system, the Composite Healthcare System (CHCS). As we rolled out our initial financial management models, I was involved with several projects as a functional user, helping to define requirements and running user-testing scripts and evaluating whether the products were meeting the needs of the end-users. Through these experiences as a functional subject matter expert, I developed a strong affinity for emerging technologies. I decided to formally move into IT program management at roughly the 20-year mark in my career. I accepted a role in the Office of the Secretary for Comptroller (OSD-C) on a large ACAT I program, the Business Management Modernization Program (BMMP). I was fortunate enough to complete the curriculum for level-3 program management at the Defense Acquisition University (DAU).
At the 23-year mark, I retired from active duty and accepted a career Defense Civilian position and continued to manage large IT programs for a few years, eventually deciding to leave government and join the Health IT industry. For the immediate past 13+ years, I have served in a variety of executive positions supporting the federal health care market. I’ve been fortunate enough to manage businesses that have been focused on delivering high value solutions to clients, grow high performing teams of IT professionals, manage the inherent risks associated with large IT implementations and deliver shareholder value through profitable growth in my business. In my current role I manage a portfolio that is around $650 million/year in annual revenue, across the federal health care space.
What aspect of healthcare in the federal market is the most challenging? What are the notable challenges that you are facing currently or have faced in the past?
Lovell: Inside the federal market, when you start talking about program management and implementing IT solutions, our biggest challenge is not unique to healthcare–It is a challenge that is common to most, if not all, professionals implementing information technology solutions. It is all about requirements and scope. With the right amount of time and financial investment you can build practically any IT solution. Our clients have problems they are trying to solve. They come to us with those problems. We have a great dialogue between the IT industry and the client. Ultimately, the client determines what they want to buy and they put out a request for proposal and we in industry bid on that RFP. Once you win the contract, you sit down at the kick-off, invariably figuring out what the scope of the project is and what the requirements are, ensuring that there is an ongoing communication between the client and our team so that the communication doesn’t get stale, old and irrelevant. It is not a static environment; the client will have fact-of-life issues that demand changes to the requirements in the project.
It is critical that we be nimble and responsive to the client’s changing environment, but also stay in the scope of the original project. We have to be very clear on the impact of any changes on the schedule and budget. My number one challenge is always trying to make sure my team and the client are on the same page on requirements and scope, that we stay inside the envelope and deliver those requirements, and both sides are happy with the outcome.
The good news is the industry is moving more and more to agile methodologies and because of that clients are very involved every day in the work that we are doing. We have fewer problems today than we did 10-12 years ago when I was first starting down this path, but it is still an ongoing challenge to stay on top of managing project requirements and scope. A more specific challenge in healthcare right now is data interoperability. There is such a disparate set of tools and products out there, and each healthcare entity collects data using the technology they have adopted. We don’t have an established data interoperability across our health industry. When a beneficiary is receiving healthcare in one facility, and then goes to a second facility, perhaps only a few miles down the road, it is not simple to move the documentation of those two visits into one file or folder. Many times, our beneficiaries are carrying pieces of paper back and forth or having people fax things or send things in encrypted emails.
While we certainly have made progress towards interoperability standards, we have much work remaining to agree to comprehensive health data interoperability standards and implement those across commercial and public healthcare. Health data interoperability impacts all healthcare entities, including our federal healthcare provider organizations–military health, the V.A., Indian Health and others. If we can further our efforts to implement standards for data and system interoperability, we will be able to accelerate our efforts to better serve individual beneficiaries, as well as better understand how we can best support the total population across America.
What happened to DXC, Vencore and Keypoint? Can you tell our readers something about what’s going on?
Lovell: If you recall, Hewlett Packard split into two companies in November 2015 forming Hewlett Packard Incorporated (HPI) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). In April 2017, HPE spun off its Enterprise Services business to merge with CSC forming DXC Technology. Now, DXC Technology is going to spin off the US Public Sector and the US Public Sector will merge with Vencore and Keypoint to create a public sector-focused company. It will be a robust company with $4.3 billion in annual revenue, placing the new company in the top 5 public sector companies. This will allow our new company to focus on capabilities and solutions that are specifically tailored to serve the defense, federal, state, and local government markets. The way that a new company creates value is focusing on growth strategies, optimizing capital structure and driving customer value through highly-tailored offerings and services. The merger of DXC’s US Public Sector, Vencore and Keypoint creates a strong organization focused on client delivery excellence, growing high performing teams and driving business growth in the US Public Sector. There is a great deal of synergy in what we do so I’m pretty excited about what happens next.
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