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Executive Spotlight: Thomas Naughton, President of U.S. Federal Citizen Services With Maximus

Executive Spotlight: Thomas Naughton, President of U.S. Federal Citizen Services With Maximus - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Thomas Naughton, president of U.S. Federal Citizen Services with Maximus, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz for the publication’s latest Executive Spotlight interview detailing the company’s expansion into the healthcare industry, public health modernization efforts, the recent acquisition of Veteran Evaluation Services (VES) and more.

“You should not be forced to have to read a handbook to understand how to utilize the systems that are provided to help our veterans. We are focused on closing the gap between our services and our customers. That not only leads to more streamlined and less expensive programs for the federal government, but it leads to a much happier process for everyone involved, from the stakeholders to our veterans.”

You can read the full Executive Spotlight with Thomas Naughton below:

ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about Maximus’ expansion into the healthcare sector and the medical services field as the company emerged as one of the biggest pioneers to assist the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? What would you say are the significant challenges that federal agencies are facing as emerging medical tech continues to evolve? 

“The greatest lesson was that a significant rebuild and modernization of our public health infrastructure is necessary. That’s not only from an operational perspective, but from a systems perspective as well. Agencies have recognized it’s time to reassess and they’re beginning to make big moves on the modernization and system side of things. 

From an operational perspective, the public health workforce shrank by approximately 56,000 positions over the decade preceding COVID, primarily due to funding issues. There is a need to develop more public and private partnerships to ensure that staffing and resources are available. 

The modernization of the overall system is a critical move for the future that also lends itself to better data collection and better data sharing. I believe there will be an evolution of health information exchanges where public health data is being shared with clinical health data for all providers to gain a 360-degree view of clinical health and public health needs.

Another lesson learned from the pandemic is the need to have better data-sharing programs that do not prevent access. As an example, over the past two years there have been numerous examples of a public health department seeking specific hospital data only to be informed that it would take the hospital several months to just to get agreements in place to provide the requested data.   I think people are leaning towards data protection and sharing with a much simpler process.”

ExecutiveBiz: In terms of the citizen experience and tech advancement in the medical field, how do you believe the development of public health modernization will move forward to address some of the biggest challenges we’re facing in the sector following a pandemic? Anything you’d like to say about Maximus Public Health? 

“Thus far, our conversations with government partners have shown that they’re very interested in moving toward a full modernization effort and I think you’re going to see a serious push in the short term to get these things moving in the right direction. 

The question is what that actually means and looks like, especially with the speed of innovation and the understanding that this modernization effort will take years. Still, it’s necessary to ensure we lay down a proper foundation to avoid a failed effort.  

There are a lot of people who want this done yesterday, but even they understand the importance of long-term stability and success. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help digitize a lot of the slower processes we still have in place. 

If I’m trying to set my watch and my expectations, a lot of people are saying this modernization effort will take a decade. I’m on the optimistic side and say it’ll be closer to five years. For at least the next year, we’re really focused on assisting our clients and rebuilding the public health infrastructure. 

In addition, we’re looking at the administration pushing to increase access to government health benefit programs, leading to an increased need for assisting those stakeholders in enrollment as well as the eligibility of those programs, especially within state markets. I believe half a dozen states are moving out of the federal marketplace and setting up within their state marketplaces. There’s going to be significant activity there and a lot of folks will need expertise to ensure those initiatives are rolled out in a lasting way.”

ExecutiveBiz: With Maximus’ recent acquisition of Veteran Evaluation Services (VES), how will you work to implement VES with the Maximus workforce and work together to support the VA’s medical disability examination program? How will the acquisition benefit your customers?

“The integration between VES and Maximus has been a really positive experience for both companies. We’re all mission-driven folks who are focused on ensuring that the stakeholders receive the best service possible. 

Our goals are well-aligned with one another, and it’s been a smooth transition from that perspective. I would say that has established some comfort to the client and the VA side hasn’t had any hiccups in services either since the acquisition. 

At this point, we’re quite a few months into integration and VES’ performance remains strong. Our collective goal is to help modernize the program for our nation’s veterans and provide them with as much digital communication and interaction as possible to ease their understanding of the program. The exams can be stressful for veterans, and we want to do everything we can to make them comfortable.

It’s important to us that veterans understand the services they’re receiving and why VES and Maximus are providing those services for them. We need to provide the services, but also the education to show how the process works and do our best to make it a stress-free experience.” 

ExecutiveBiz: To continue on the citizen experience, what can you tell us about the work being done to establish new customer service platforms, leveraging AI and machine learning capabilities, to put the information into the hands of the public through new tools?

“One of the first things we did was engage with one of the larger veteran services organizations to hold focus groups with veterans on their exam experience. As part of the focus groups, we shared our plans for modernizing the veteran experience. We received their feedback on our plans and how we can best utilize the portal to help them. 

We are focused on the customer experience and journey. Accessibility and usability are key elements of the entire process. Without this focusing on the customer you cannot provide a quality solution or product. This focus includes adding artificial intelligence and machine learning to the process, so it becomes as seamless as possible. 

Everyone says that the benefits experience should be intuitive and be fast rather than slow. You should not be forced to have to read a handbook to understand how to utilize the systems that are provided to help our veterans. We are focused on closing the gap between our services and our customers. That not only leads to more streamlined and less expensive programs for the federal government, but it leads to a much easier process for everyone involved but especially for the veterans.”

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