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January 9, 2018

Healthcare and IT leaders from both the private and public sectors converge next week at AFCEA Bethesda’s annual Health IT Day.  The event, now in its 10th year, is one of the most eagerly anticipated meetings for health IT professionals.  Not only is it a time for federal agencies to showcase their mission-driven success stories, but it also provides a unique opportunity for sharing best practices and collaborative problem solving.

“The ability for health IT teams from both industry and the federal government to spend the day together is invaluable,” said JR Glass, Director of CSRA’s Health business, in a recent conversation. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to listen to and interface with our customers and to learn about the challenges they’re facing and understand how we can help them solve these challenges.”

“We work with nearly every federal agency that has a healthcare-focused mission,” shared Atacan Donmez, an Enterprise Transformation and Modernization expert and Senior Principal at CSRA. “While we already partner with agencies in vital areas such as managed services, cloud migration, and the simplification of portals for patients, providers, and payers, focused events like this are vital in helping us all to develop and deliver the next milestone solution.”

So what are some of the areas that are on Glass’ and Donmez’s mind at present? “We really want to help agencies solve end-user challenges,” said Donmez. “There are two key areas in service delivery where everyone struggles—portals and support—regardless of agency, mission, or sector; if we can solve these two challenges, we’ll help agencies deliver on their healthcare missions more effectively and efficiently.”

Glass highlighted one agency that has already made great strides towards this goal—the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). “CMS is invested in improving the user experience for providers, payers, beneficiaries, and citizens alike,” he said. “For example, CMS is focused on reducing the burden providers face when doing business with the agency.”

Historically, in order for providers to do business with CMS, they had to access multiple different websites hosting CMS systems, each with different security requirements requiring different user names and passwords and with different help desks.  “To mitigate these challenges, CMS has taken advantage of portal technology to create a ‘single pane of glass’ that serves as the main entry point for providers, enabling secure access to all the systems they need via single sign on,” Glass explained. “CMS continues to expand the functionality of its Enterprise Portal and take advantage of next-generation technologies and software development approaches to further its efforts to improve the user experience and remove some major obstacles to the delivery of healthcare services.”

As for solving support challenges, Donmez said that CSRA is heavily invested in delivering solutions that create a Tier Zero, or a system that empowers the end user to manage their trouble ticket without needing to run to helpdesk support teams for routine issues. “By creating the equivalent of a black box for IT support we’re not only empowering users, we’re also driving efficiencies for IT teams both in terms of the tasks they can accomplish and in terms of budget usage,” he noted.

Beyond these two challenges, there’s a long list of topics that the CSRA healthcare team is eager to dive into, from precision medicine that integrates research data with clinical data and makes it available to the physician at the point of care, to data commons initiatives that allow efficient and effective sharing of NIH digital health care research data with researchers and healthcare professionals.

We’re looking forward to catching up with Glass and Donmez after the AFCEA event to hear more about the big issues of the day and their insights on what they think is the next innovation for federal health IT.