Healthcare IT Game Changers to Watch: Booz Allen Hamilton’s Susan Penfield

Healthcare IT Game Changers to Watch: Booz Allen Hamilton's Susan Penfield - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Susan PenfieldPresent: Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton

Career history: Backed by 20-plus years of strategy development and technology delivery experience, Penfield specializes in the management and strategic use of information technology within the global, US federal, and commercial health industry.

Personal: Penfield is an avid Italian cook. “I'm Italian, even though my last name doesn't sound it,“ says Penfield, who's spent time in Italy learning to cook with Italian chefs.


  • Get to know the big players. “There's a lot of teaming going on today and there's a lot of pull for small business. So, I would have an aggressive strategy about getting to know the big players; many of us have a significant small business set-aside. Having a key leader in your business focused on developing relationships with primes is really important.“
  • Identify your niche. “The healthcare sector, even on the federal side, is divided into payers, providers, life sciences, and public health “” and each of those sectors has challenges that small companies can focus on. Understand where your technology or services can be applied. Because, not every [large] company is going to have the wherewithal or resources to serve all those sectors.“


ExecutiveBiz: Deploying electronic health records (EHRs) is the issue of the day. Where does the discussion need to go next?

Susan Penfield: We need to have the right incentives in place for adoption. Right now we have a flood of money from the stimulus package into creating EHRs and EMRs at hospitals and doctors offices, but the work around incentives for adoption has yet to occur at the physician level, certainly at the hospital level. So the incentives, the payment for quality, those kind of transformational things that are a part of this “” and future “”legislation has yet to occur.

ExecutiveBiz: Do incentives for adoption need to come exclusively at the legislative level?

Susan Penfield: Not necessarily. Certainly healthcare systems like the Cleveland Clinic have chosen to put incentives in place. [Cleveland Clinic] CEO [Dr. Delos M. Cosgrove] has created a completely different culture for his healthcare organization and it's all around incentives. His doctors and staff are all salaried at a base level, but their bonuses come by delivering quality care. So that's an interesting way to create incentives at a healthcare operational level and not necessarily legislative level. The question is, are these experiments working? And are patients, when we do the research, seeing better quality care? I think the answer may turn out to be yes.

ExecutiveBiz: It's been a little over a year since President Obama signed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. What opportunities do you see ahead for contractors?

Susan Penfield: The opportunity for analytics and informatics is big for companies today. As an example, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today pays for use of medical services, regardless of outcome. In the future, they'll be paying, at least in part,  for quality care and claims determinations will be done much, much differently. So, in terms of what I would call informatics, to be able to comb through the data to make those decisions, all of that has yet to happen and may be part of future legislation. The second thing is virtual health records are going to get connected. Once they do, the big opportunity there is how do you get the data out of those EHRs into a architecture where you can analyze it to support value-based healthcare.

ExecutiveBiz: Many see health information exchanges as a way to create multi-organization interoperability, and cloud computing as a next step to facilitate a central repository for analytics. What other top technologies will be changing the face of healthcare IT?

Susan Penfield: For one, the mobile device world will probably explode. The data collection that you can do at the point of care through a mobile device, I think, will revolutionize healthcare. Mobile health, or “m-health,“ is all about the use of mobile devices that you can enter data through an app while you're talking to a patient. We really want to increase the care delivery, time with the patient, and decrease the paperwork. Applications that need to be designed to do that, that's all yet to be determined, but I think that's a place where emerging technology devices will be used.

ExecutiveBiz: What's next for Booz Allen in healthcare IT?

Susan Penfield: We'll continue to focus on the fact that healthcare is a nationwide problem “” it's a public and private problem. The way I think we've been successful is by being the convener, bringing those discrete units together: the VA, DOD, and our civilian health agencies like CDC and CMS, with our private sector clients. Concurrently, we'll be watching healthcare legislation, of course. I think this legislation moves us in the right direction, but we still need to look at cost and quality. So, we will be focused on cost and bending that curve through our role as a convener and creating a dialogue around it. I think the third lever is quality, and I think quality is improved when data is available, understood and analyzed so we will continue to push interoperability, data exchanges and technologies that support the collection of that data and the use of that data to make really good, sound decisions.

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Healthcare IT Game Changers to Watch: CGI's Cheryl Campbell - top government contractors - best government contracting event
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