Healthcare IT Game Changers to Watch: Dell Perot’s Dr. Kevin Fickenscher

Healthcare IT Game Changers to Watch: Dell Perot's Dr. Kevin Fickenscher - top government contractors - best government contracting event

kevin fickenscherPresent: Dell Perot Systems Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

Career highlights: Came to Perot Systems five years ago as chief medical officer and consulting group lead. Previously, served as National Director and Partner for Clinical Transformation at Computer Sciences Corporation's Global Health Solutions Group, and as Chief Medical Officer at several healthcare organizations, including Aurora Healthcare and Catholic Healthcare West.

Personal: Don't get Fickenscher started on Asian Fusion. “You know what?“ he says, “I'm a fabulous cook. I love to cook. Three weeks ago, I soaked a steak in teriyaki, then encrusted it in gorgonzola panco, then sautéed “” not steamed “” a side dish of green beans “¦“


  • Develop domain expertise capability. “You can have all the technology expertise in the world, but without domain expertise, it's limited,“ says Fickenscher. “As we look at supporting the government “” the VA, DoD, and other organizations “” we are not just offering IT capability,“ he adds.
  • Proactively bring innovation to the table. “Too often, contractors are passive, responding to the Federal Register instead of saying, “˜Let's bring ideas and technologies to the table.' The latter approach is something we're seriously looking at within our organization.“
  • View yourself as long-term partner. “We bid on opportunities where we can be a long-term partner. This is hard work, and if we are going to deploy resources and systems, we want to be there for the long term.“
  • Demonstrate a multidisciplinary approach to technology. “If you get a group of pharmacists together, they will design a system that's probably good for pharmacists, but not nurses, nutritionists, etc. Having a multidisciplinary approach is essential to deploying information technology. I'm not sure the current investment initiatives are highlighting that enough.“


ExecutiveBiz: You served on the Clinton Healthcare Task Force, which was reviewing reform approaches. Now, here we go again. What's your assessment of the current healthcare reform efforts taking shape?

Kevin Fickenscher: The current debate suggests we'll keep the same approach in place: a fee-for-service system. But, if we think we can simply ratchet up our current approach, the system is going to break. We can't use a model that was developed 25 years ago and carry that forward as a workforce approach. There aren't enough physicians, nurses, or pharmacists in the pipeline to deal with the demands. A huge allocation of our general economic capacity is now devoted to healthcare. I'm a healthcare advocate and I believe that we should have a good healthcare system, but a continuing escalation of healthcare services allocated to the economy is not realistic.

ExecutiveBiz: How can government help address the current escalation?

Kevin Fickenscher: I believe that the Office of the National Coordinator, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and other organizations involved in this current effort need to encourage investment in workflow redesign. Again, if we look at healthcare in the United States over the last 25 years, the field is littered with failures. The question becomes why? It cuts directly to the issue that not enough time and energy are allocated toward redesigning the way we do our work. If you simply deploy technology on top of existing work you'll create more work for clinicians who are already maxed out. It's critical to redesign your efforts taking these factors into consideration; otherwise you're simply putting technology on top of an existing sore. That new approach requires collaboration of multiple parties.

ExecutiveBiz: Where do government contractors fit into healthcare solutions?

Kevin Fickenscher: First of all, I do believe government contractors have a very important role to play in healthcare reform. Contractors can bring knowledge capability to the table to meet the needs of HIT deployments, for example. In our case, we have a methodology called the ADOPTS Framework “” that stands for Assess, Design, Optimize, Prepare, Transform, and Sustain. Our philosophy is that you need to engage in a series of activities that relate to each of those areas to effectively deploy information systems.

ExecutiveBiz: What technologies will be changing the face of U.S. healthcare this year and beyond?

Kevin Fickenscher: Physicians, as a group, don't have a lot of capital reserves. So for them to make the kinds of investments needed to deploy HIT systems will be difficult. Dell Perot Systems has developed a cloud computing approach that, for a monthly fee, allows physicians access to a secure, private electronic records system in their office. That model is becoming attractive to physicians all over the world. I believe that same cloud computing model will be seen in hospitals in 10 years as well.

ExecutiveBiz: What's one of the top things contractors need to keep in mind for customers to realize the full benefit of their healthcare IT investments?

Kevin Fickenscher: I strongly believe that if leaders of healthcare organizations aren't engaged in healthcare IT deployment efforts, the risk of failure goes way up. Unfortunately in the healthcare IT space, oversight tends to get delegated down to the line. Too frequently, in my view, executives aren't engaged in the discussion on an ongoing basis. That would be unheard of if, say, a new hospital tower or facility were being built. But, I can tell you, the resources within a company required to mobilize an IT initiative are every bit as important as they are in building a new tower or hospital. So, it's imperative for contractors to engage healthcare leaders of these organizations early on in discussions. I'm not sure how you can contract that; I don't know how you break that into an RFP. But it's something we, as an industry, need to start talking about more with healthcare leaders.

ExecutiveBiz: How do you foster that multidisciplinary approach with your own clients?

Kevin Fickenscher: We feel that a big part of providing outstanding value-added services is having accompanying domain expertise as well. For example, as we look at supporting the government “” the VA, DOD, and other organizations “” we aren't just bringing the IT capability to the table; we're bringing specific domain expertise forward. We're bringing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and others to the table who have experience in both the IT and clinician space.

ExecutiveBiz: Where to next from Dell Perot Systems in healthcare IT?

Kevin Fickenscher: The integration of Perot Systems into Dell has allowed us to greatly accelerate our efforts to support health information technology ““ both administrative and clinical ““ through cloud computing.  We are aggressively developing our capabilities on this front ““ which, I believe, are helping change the face of the information technology space.  Second, clinicians are mobile by the very nature of the work they support in caring for people.  So, support for mobile clinical computing is a key priority.  Dell Perot Systems is at the forefront of this area as well.  Third, health information exchange is a key priority. While there are many other areas where we are investing time and resources ““these three represent major priorities for us.  And, it's important to know that these capabilities are a priority for our initiatives on a global basis.  We are taking the “lessons learned“ from across the world and leveraging them for the benefit of healthcare.

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