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Defense Health Agency Year in Review

Defense Health Agency’s Director, Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, visited the Medical Education and Training Campus at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to see the training of the next generation of enlisted medical personnel earlier this fall. Defense Health Agency’s Director, Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, visited the Medical Education and Training Campus at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to see the training of the next generation of enlisted medical personnel earlier this fall. (MHS photo)

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As I complete my first year as director of the Defense Health Agency, I am gratified by the exciting, challenging and inspiring opportunities the agency and I have experienced. Now, as 2016 comes to an end, it is important to reflect on the goals, accomplishments and events that shaped DHA this year, and how they will carry us into 2017.

Throughout the year, we explored and pursued how to best meet each of our goals in ways meaningful to our stakeholders. It’s been extremely encouraging to see the progress we’ve made focusing on the areas of strengthening our role as a combat support agency, fortifying our relationship with the services and optimizing DHA operations.

We’ve made great strides in defining our role as a supporting element to our major stakeholders, primarily the services. Our relationship with the services is the foundation of what we do. In the operational arena, we’ve taken a novel approach as a combat support agency to identify how we can best support the combatant commanders. By working directly with the combatant commands and the Joint Staff surgeon, we’ve identified the readiness problem sets DHA is uniquely situated to address. 

By reconfiguring our organization this year, an accomplishment only made possible by our talented DHA leadership, we are able to optimize the DHA in a way that positions us favorably for the new year. We reduced silos and flattened our organization to promote an objectives-oriented approach to strategic execution while sharing knowledge in a cross-matrixed environment. This not only enhanced our communication and how we address challenges across the agency, more importantly, how we formulate the solutions going forward.

As we transition into 2017, I see three important focus areas. First, as we deploy MHS GENESIS at our initial site in the Pacific Northwest, we will keenly look at the opportunities to compress the deployment schedule across the Military Health System. Our preparation for initial operating capability and the lessons learned upon deployment and implementation will inform our subsequent waves of deployment.

Another focus area is the implementation of the TRICARE 2017 contracts. We recently received a positive ruling from the U.S. Government Accountability Office allowing our transition work to continue. We’ll ensure our new vendors come on board smoothly next year after their transition periods. Our early success with the awards to our contract partners and our mitigation of previous transition challenges has been very encouraging.

Lastly, a great deal of interest will focus on Title VII of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017. While challenges exist with implementing the aggressively paced schedule, our recent organizational re-configuration and 2017 strategic planning session favorably positions DHA to address many of the efforts quickly. As we coordinate efforts among the services, the Joint Staff and DHA, it is important to recognize how the NDAA provides turning mechanisms to create an integrated system of health and readiness for all our beneficiaries.

As always, I very much appreciate the feedback and insights our stakeholders continually and generously share with us. We are committed to being responsive and supportive to all stakeholders. For our internal stakeholders, it is my hope that those within DHA find their experiences and time here to be personally and professionally enhancing.

As I reflect on the talent, commitment and focus I have seen in our people, my admiration and appreciation for what they do and what they represent continues to grow. Even when faced with hurdles, they continue to rise to the challenge and perform beyond expectations. This is an essential capability. DHA as a facilitative agency that supports, implements and sustains the Military Health System affirms the value DHA brings to the MHS.

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