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Flanders rallies health IT professionals to be 'cost warriors'

Pat Flanders, deputy assistant director for Information Operations, and Military Health System chief information officer, spoke about Ektropy. Ektropy is a customized web-based program and portfolio management solution that helps the MHS run like a business. It provides unprecedented relational view among cost, contracts, personnel, and programs across the MHS. The name is meant to be the antonym of the word entropy, which means lack of order. (MHS photo) Pat Flanders, deputy assistant director for Information Operations, and Military Health System chief information officer, spoke about Ektropy. Ektropy is a customized web-based program and portfolio management solution that helps the MHS run like a business. It provides unprecedented relational view among cost, contracts, personnel, and programs across the MHS. The name is meant to be the antonym of the word entropy, which means lack of order. (MHS photo)

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Defense Health Information Technology Symposium (DHITS)

Serving as "cost warriors" while the DHA's IT infrastructure is modernized, standardized, and streamlined continues to be a top priority, said Pat Flanders, deputy assistant director for Information Operations, and Military Health System chief information officer. Flanders gave the opening remarks on Tuesday, July 30, at the 2019 Defense Health Information Technology Symposium, or DHITS. The theme of this year's DHA-sponsored event is "One Team, One Mission – Enabling MHS Transformation."

Flanders explained some of the structural changes his team is undergoing to respond to innovations. "We know where we're going," he said, adding that with all military treatment facilities coming under the DHA on Oct. 1, utilizing Ektropy is key. 

Ektropy is a customized web-based program and portfolio management solution that helps the MHS run like a business, Flanders said. It provides unprecedented relational view among cost, contracts, personnel, and programs across the MHS.

The name is meant to be the antonym of the word entropy, which means lack of order. Flanders says Ektropy was built to make it as easy to use as possible, so that "we're exposing the people at the MTFs who are responsible for the IT financials to the bare minimum of financial complexity."

Ektropy captures data across the entire MHS, Flanders noted, providing an enterprise-wide view of IT spending. This enhanced visibility enables data-driven decisions in support of the delivery of a more secure, efficient, and effective IT infrastructure. Funding is aligned with defined priorities, he said, and supports the effective management and administration of MHS IT.

"The reason this is so important is, it allows me to fight for money," Flanders said. "It allows me to show where we're taking savings. And it allows me to see what's out there so that I can ponder strategic sourcing and get better deals."

Flanders said a quality single standard will be enforced "where it makes sense. Where things are more alike than different, I want standardization. Where they're more different than alike, I just want to baseline that so that we know we've consciously said to let them be different for that aspect of what they do."  

Ektropy marks the first time all enterprise health IT financial data has been made available in a centralized repository, Flanders noted. "DHA is committed to creating and maintaining a performance-based culture focused on results and accountability," he said. "We're going to run IT like a business."

Other issues Flanders touched on during his remarks included cybersecurity and Desktop to Datacenter, the program to streamline infrastructure service lines across the MHS.

After Flanders spoke, Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, the DHA director, assisted with presenting the 2019 DHITS awards. Awards and recipients are as follows:

  • U.S. Army Medical Department Mercury Award for Health Information Technology:
    • Civilian of the Year: Joseph Lowe, Regional Health Command Atlantic
    • Officer of the Year: Army Capt. Michael A. Kellenbenz, Office of the Surgeon General, G-6 Health Information Technology Directorate, Operation Medicine Section
    • Team of the Year: Regional Health Command – Central, Virtual MEDCEN
  • Captain Joan Dooling Award for Information Professional Excellence (Navy):
    • Information Professional Officer of the Year: Navy Lt. Rachel Knight
    • Information Professional Enlisted Member of the Year: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Miguel Velasquez
    • Information Professional Civilian Member of the Year: David Tran
    • Information Professional Team of the Year: Naval Health Clinic Lemoore’s Information Technology Department
    • Information Professional Clinical Informaticist of the Year: Navy Lt. Cmdr. “Robert” Park
  • Air Force Surgeon General's Medical Information Services Team Award: 374th Medical Support Squadron, Information Services Flight, Yokota Air Base, Japan
  • Deputy Assistant Director Information Operations Awards, J-6:
    • Field Grade Officer of the Year: Air Force Lt. Col. William Lunsford
    • Company Grade Officer of the Year: Air Force Capt. Joseph Donahue
    • Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Air Force Master Sgt. Katrina Rollins
    • Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Edgar
    • Category II Civilian of the Year: Shaundra Knight
    • Category I Civilian of the Year: Ying Gomez

DHITS brings together government, military, and industry information technology professional to share knowledge, ideas, new developments, and lessons learned. The symposium continues through Aug. 1 at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida.

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