ClearanceJobs recently sat down with Melissa Chapman, the vice president of health business development at Salient CRGT. Salient CRGT provides health IT solutions to a variety of government agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Defense. Salient CRGT is helping to integrate technology solutions into the health IT mission, along with applying a variety of cutting edge security and IT solutions.
“We provide a wide variety of technology, integrated to help health agencies accomplish their mission,” said Chapman. She briefly described the evolution of electronic health records. While patients today may see them as a relatively new phenomenon, electronic health records have been around for decades. Researchers were using them as early as the 1970s, and the VA’s Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VISTA) has been around since the early 1980s.
“It’s not as new as we might think, but it was somewhat isolated,” said Chapman.
And believe it or not, health IT is one area where the government has been an innovator, said Chapman. HHS lead the development of national data standards, she noted, as well as use standards.
“With those standards, that really started to increase the adoption rate,” said Chapman. “Now, most of us have experienced some form of electronic health record, it’s much more prevalent these days.”
Using Health Data to Improve Patient Care, Overall Health
You may assume health data is all about saving time or improving patient care. But while that’s a key part of it, health data also allows healthcare professionals to begin understanding disease prevalence. For agencies like the VA, notes Chapman, healthcare records can also be combined with social media and behavioral data. And for school-aged children, electronic health records can be paired to school performance and nutrition data to help assess factors to improve student health and performance.
“We can learn a lot from integrating and exploring the large volume of health data available, but it requires an informed and experienced technical approach, coupled with relevant health domain experience,” notes Chapman.
With great power (and great data), comes great responsibility, however. As electronic health records become more prominent, along with the demand to share them, the need for data security is highlighted. Fortunately, as the government looks to procure health IT solutions, cybersecurity is a critical piece of that.
“As in any discipline of information protection – financial data, employment data, or national security information…health has its own unique security needs, as well,” said Chapman. “In every procurement for health IT the government makes, the government includes a detailed, specific requirement for data security that underlies the project.”
That’s where companies such as Salient CRGT come in. When it comes to hiring priorities, Chapman notes they’re not looking to find purple unicorn candidates with both high level IT skills and a medical degree.
“Our approach at Salient CRGT comes from thinking about how do you merge these two very scientific and technical disciplines…together those disciplines know a lot about how to incorporate IT in healthcare,” she notes.