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Bob McCord of 2020: Three tips for effective small business partnerships in healthcare IT

Bob McCord of 2020: Three tips for effective small business partnerships in healthcare IT - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Bob McCordBob McCord made a conscious decision over 20 years ago to focus his career at the intersection of health, IT and government. “I believed the health industry had underinvested in health information technology and the government would play an expanding role in this marketplace,“ says McCord. He was right. Today, government agencies are planning to spend $15 billion on healthcare IT by 2014. Small business partnerships will play a key role in that growth. “There has been a greater focus of late on the government and their partners looking for diverse skills and services,“ he says. Here, McCord, chief operating officer of 2020, shares three tips for large integrators to forge effective small business partnerships in healthcare IT.

At a glance:

  • Bob McCord has worked in healthcare IT for companies such as IBM, WebMD, DynCorp, Pearson (now Vangent), and SAIC. In early 2009, McCord became chief operating officer of 2020.
  • 2020 is an 8(a) minority business, with just under 300 employees; it's also CMMI Level 3 assessed and ISO 9001:2000 certified.
  • Healthcare IT is a primary focus for 2020. Among its support work, the company serves as the systems maintainer for CMS' Common Working File; it also offers enterprise life cycle management systems contract support for FDA. Mike Raymond, Chief Strategy Officer for 2020, was formerly VP Health at CSC.

“Health IT is well suited for small and medium sized businesses because so many opportunities are $30 million or less.“ “” Bob McCord, COO, 2020

Three tips for small business partnerships: Healthcare IT

“Health IT is well suited for small and medium sized businesses because so many opportunities are $30 million or less.“says McCord. The complex, fragmented nature of health care is a key reason why. Small businesses are often particularly skilled at filling in the gaps, in critical areas: public health, electronic health records, benefit integrity and healthcare research, among them. The Administration's focus on contracting with small businesses combined with healthcare reform creates a fertile environment for large integrators to team, both prime and sub, with smaller companies.

In selecting effective small business partners, McCord recommends large integrators:

  1. Think outside the box. Since many of the health IT opportunities are small to medium sized in nature, it's important for large companies to think outside of the box about teaming, says McCord. “The saying is, “˜If all you have is a hammer, all you see is a nail,'“ says McCord. “If you use the same small businesses over and over again, then you lack the diversity that I think the government is looking for,“ he says. Talking to your own customers is one way to generate ideas for prospective small business partners. “Your customers will often have met with a number of companies,“ he says. Also talking to the small business office in government is helpful. “Many will have been briefed by small businesses,“ says McCord.  “Large, vertically integrated health IT requirements are  in the wheelhouse of the major integrators but the difference between winning and losing can be the best team and the right “smalls.“
  2. Proactively reach out to small businesses. “Proactively reaching out to small businesses in advance of opportunities and establishing relationships is beneficial since the response time on RFPs can crunch down the timeframe to identify and build those relationships,“ says McCord.  “Advance teaming allows the large and small businesses to work more effectively together on the opportunities when they come out,“ he adds. “For a large business to make a customer call with a small business is very powerful “¦ rather than just snapping their capability statement into their response,“ says McCord. “The government knows you are serious about working together rather than just trying to meet a goal“.
  3. Watch for unique non-standard exploratory requirements. By virtue of the law of big numbers “” and the scale requirements for large business “” it can often be difficult for large integrators to pursue smaller prototype opportunities. But those opportunities frequently grow into larger ones. “Unique exploratory prototyping opportunities are perfect opportunities for small and large businesses to work together “¦ they can expand strategy into a new customer or service area,“ says McCord. So have an open mind about pursuing those with small businesses, he says.

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