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IT health care leaders among DOD’s ‘Top 100 Innovators List’ for 2021

A picture of Pat Flanders, the DHA's chief information officer and deputy assistant director for information operations and Army Maj. Ryan Costantino, data innovation chief for the Program Executive Office Pat Flanders (left), the Defense Health Agency’s chief information officer and deputy assistant director for information operations, and Army Maj. Ryan Costantino, data innovation chief for the Program Executive Office, Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solution program with the Defense Healthcare Management Systems, will be presented with Federal 100 Awards at a gala in August (Handout photo)

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Two pioneering Department of Defense health care information technology professionals have been selected by FCW magazine as among the top 100 federal innovators in their field for 2021, known as the 'Federal 100.'

Pat Flanders, the Defense Health Agency's chief information officer and deputy assistant director for information operations, and Army Maj. Ryan Costantino, data innovation chief for the Program Executive Office, Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solution (EIDS) program with the Defense Healthcare Management Systems (PEO DHMS); will be honored at a gala in August. The Federal 100 Awards are presented to the 100 women and men "who personify what's possible in how the federal government acquires, develops and manages IT," FCW said in a statement.

Flanders, a finance specialist within the IT field who also made the Federal 100 list in 2013, leads the development of a secure Military Health System (MHS) IT sector that seeks to streamline multi-year operations that improve health records, systems, services and medical readiness.

"As service-managed hospitals and clinics began realigning under DHA administration and onto its centralized IT infrastructure, Pat took steps to establish an unprecedented level of financial transparency necessary to identify opportunities for standardization and operational efficiencies," according to the award nomination written by Dr. Brian Lein, assistant director of the DHA's Health Care Administration (HCA).

"He personally developed and implemented a custom, web-based enterprise resource planning solution, Ektropy, to capture a relational view of MHS IT costs, contracts, personnel, and programs," Lein wrote. "This has resulted in centralized planning and execution data allowing for a comprehensive view and analysis; eliminated redundancies to improve costs; and provided audit controls, ultimately driving increased accountability across the MHS enterprise."

Ektropy has been a game-changer as the DHA continues to consolidate electronic medical records across the MHS. It tracks 182 organizations with more than 10,000 people and almost $2 billion in IT budget costs.

Acting as secondary nominators for Flanders were Naomi Escoffery, DHA HCA's chief of business operations, and Air Force Col. Kevin Seeley, DHA deputy CIO.

Costantino, with a background as a pharmacist, was nominated by colleagues at the PEO DHMS for his commitment to combat opioid abuse by leading the enhancement of a joint DOD/Veterans Affairs opioid registry, an automatic system to alert clinicians to a patient in crisis.

"The DOD and VA Opioid registries are a triumph in collaboration and a data-centric approach - getting the right data at the point of care to benefit our service members, veterans, and their families," said Holly Joers, acting program executive officer, PEO DHMS. "As a result of his tireless dedication and leadership, Maj. Constantino is changing lives.

Costantino serves as a clinical analytic expert and advisor to DHA leadership, Nichols and Sohl wrote, serving as a bridge to other technical subject matter experts.

His job is to sustain investment for data capabilities in collaboration with industry, academia, allies, and other non-federal entities, pushing tech to create healthcare capabilities and improve outcomes, according to his Top 100 award nominators - Chris Nichols, PEO DHMS program manager, and Navy Cmdr. David Sohl, EIDS business operations lead.

That work includes enhancing access to high-quality and fully traceable federal data and resources for artificial intelligence research and development while maintaining safety, security, privacy, and confidentiality protections. Costantino also oversees the methodology and integrity of the EIDS Opioid Registry and Naloxone Tool, which directly contribute to pain management and opioid safety within the MHS.

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