Partnerships play a big role in driving health IT innovation, and experts from the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Military Health System (MHS) advise government organizations to leverage industry partnerships for innovative ideas and opportunities.

At AFCEA Bethesda’s 14th annual Health IT event on Feb. 8, MHS experts shared how they’re leveraging partnerships to help drive innovation within their agency.

“The partnerships are really important,” said David Norley, program manager for the Joint Operational Medicine Information System (JOMIS) Program Office, at the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) Program Executive Office – Defense Healthcare Management Systems (PEO DHMS). PEO DHMS is the program executive office responsible for modernizing electronic health records and data sharing platforms across the DoD.

In order to “get the best out of the partnerships,” Norley said the government needs to be “putting objectives that we want to achieve out there and letting industry actually solve our problems.”

“It’s really important that you unfetter your industry partners so that they can offer you all sorts of approaches that you wouldn’t normally think of and incentivize them to come up with the best responses so that they can be innovative and approach things differently,” Norley added.

As for Lance Scott, the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) program office’s solution integration director, and program manager for the Defense Medical Information Exchange (DMIX) program, he said his office has made “absolute leaps and bounds” with its partners over the last couple of years.

“The amount of partners is absolutely … mind-boggling,” Scott said. “We only benefit when we have additional partners that reach out to us with new innovations on the way to transport data, the way to resolve that data, the way to present that data in front of the patient and the clinician.”

“We’ve just scratched the surface on what we can do, even though our data exchange network is getting vast. There’s no doubt in my mind that these partnerships are the future,” he added. “They are what we need to move ahead.”

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Chris Nichols, program manager for Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solutions (EIDS) at DHA said that partnerships are also critical to frameworks such as DevSecOps and Agile.

“We can talk DevSecOps all day, we can talk Agile all day, but if we don’t have the right partnership with the functionals in ensuring that we’re tied back with what they’re trying to accomplish, we’re really doing the wrong work,” Nichols said. “It’s also about changing some of that bad word called ‘governance’ and changing some of those things and then modifying how we do things in partnership that will then drive those opportunities.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.