Meet Your 40 Under 40 Winner - Commander Long T. Pham, Chief, Health Technology and Innovation Liaison Office, Defense Health Agency

Sept. 19, 2023
Congratulations to Commander Long T. Pham for being named to the inaugural Healthcare Innovation 40 Under 40 awards program!

Congratulations to 40 Under 40 Winner: Commander Long T. Pham, Chief, Health Technology and Innovation Liaison Office, Defense Health Agency

Get To Know Commander Long T. Pham:

Age (as of December 31, 2023): 38

Hometown: Falls Church, Virginia

Alma Matter: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) University

Number of Years of Experience in Healthcare: 14 years

Someone You Look Up to in the Industry: Mr. Tim Cook (Apple CEO)

Favorite Hobby: Reading autobiography books and traveling to new places

Why is this candidate a good fit for 40 under 40?

Commander Long T. Pham is an impressive and accomplished must-select for Healthcare Innovation’s Annual 40 under 40 Program! A clinical pharmacist in the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service (USPHS) since 2011 and currently assigned as Chief, Health Technology and Innovation Liaison Office at Defense Health Agency (DHA) in Falls Church, VA, Commander Pham has spent the past decade working in a variety of federal health positions where he consistently demonstrated superb leadership, creative problem-solving, and a commitment to lifelong learning.   Over the past decade, Commander Pham has: • led evaluation and implementation of commercial and proprietary hardware and software tools, ensured compliance with federal guidelines and cyber requirements, and optimized existing technologies and capabilities, saving the federal government more than $30 million. • identified opportunities to improve healthcare delivery and patient safety, ensured good stewardship of limited resources, and boosted adoption of existing and new technology. • acquired knowledge and application of industry best practices, including traditional pharmacist duties as well as non-traditional responsibilities, including informatics, logistics, warehouse operations, contracting requirements, and federal information technology (IT) regulations. Throughout his career, Commander Pham has embraced ingenuity and productivity. He knows the key to making the federal health system work is to optimize technology so it serves the end-users, train clinicians to collaborate with IT specialists, and apply the principles of a learning organization.  Commander Pham recognized the value of technology in 2013 when IT specialists began deleting the wrong medications in a Navajo hospital system, wreaking havoc for providers and patients. To remedy this, Commander Pham volunteered to become the Clinical Applications Coordinator in addition to his pharmacist role. This is where he began to learn what IT in healthcare could do.  Commander Pham continued to build his IT skills, transitioning from informatics to the technical side, where he implemented the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program on a publicly accessible website for patients requiring prescription medications, vaccines, durable medical equipment, and devices following disasters, improving access and saving money. Assigned to oversee operations for eight pharmaceutical warehouses scattered across the US and its territories, he established SharePoint workflows to ensure patient safety and prevent diversion.  He was assigned as Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) Team Lead in 2017, providing expert technical guidance to five IT staff and more than 200 federal contracting officer representatives, program managers, and directors and oversight of a $67 million agency IT investment portfolio.  In his current role at DHA, Commander Pham has empowered healthcare staff to request changes to MHS GENESIS that contribute to improved access and patient safety of military members, retirees, and their families.  CDR Pham possesses technical acumen to capture concepts, succinctly outline problems, and facilitate solutions across multiple disciplines and competing priorities. He fosters collaboration between technical experts and clinicians, balances risk, benefit, and cost for IT sustainability, and creates the framework for change through consensus, ownership and on-time completion of deliverables. Commander Pham is most worthy of recognition!

Explain this candidate’s professional accomplishments:

Commander Pham recognized that the loss of prescription medications, devices, and durable medical equipment for people forced to evacuate their homes due to natural disasters or emergencies triggered preventable health emergencies and caused significant stress for medical disaster relief teams. He developed the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP), a pharmacy disaster insurance for uninsured people forced to evacuate without their medications or devices. This $40 million contracted insurance program would permit 27 million uninsured evacuees to obtain 30 days of medications, immunizations, and durable medical equipment at participating pharmacies, alleviating some anxieties, and ensuring the continuation of routine medications.  Commander Pham: • Reduced activation time of EPAP from two weeks to 24 hours. • Increased retail pharmacy participation from 7,000 to 72,000 pharmacies nationwide. • Improved visibility of filled prescription costs from unknown to real-time at point-of-sale. • Co-developed EPAP website for education and pharmaceutical assistance for patients and healthcare professionals. • Translated EPAP Fact Sheet into Vietnamese.  When he transferred to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for disaster management, Commander Pham learned more about the technical side of IT. Overseeing eight pharmaceutical supply warehouses scattered across the US and its territories, he realized there was no way to find and recall lot numbers amongst all the pallets in the warehouses, no way to verify if recalled medications or supplies had already been pulled, and worse---no way to notify patients and providers if they had already been taken.   Commander Pham instituted the following: • Implementation of an initial Quality Assurance program that achieved $2.1 million cost savings and avoidance for eight pharmaceutical warehouses: o Led merger of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Federal Medical Stations and ASPR pharmacy caches to support emergency responsiveness. o Implemented wireless and real-time temperature monitoring system. o Performed formulary review that reduced quantities and removed outdated medications for clinical guideline compliance. • Establishment of an internal Recall Tracking System on drugs, medical supplies, laboratory and biomedical equipment and other logistical requirements in the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to support compliance with Food and Drug Administration recalls using an existing technology---SharePoint.  • Creation and management of the initial ASPR internal Record File Management System to file contracts, documents, and other communications necessary for lessons learned and continuity.  Another concern was cybersecurity. Commander Pham trained staff on potential hazards of popular apps while supporting adoption of apps that improved clinicians’ ability to communicate and deliver safe healthcare. His goal was to gain approval for the software clinicians need while ensuring a favorable risk profile. To accomplish this goal, he: • Distilled a 50-page cybersecurity policy into five key questions, using data to document benefits while quantifying any risks and improving vendor responsiveness.  • Taught staff and vendors about Authority to Operate (ATO) and FedRAMP processes and recommended appropriate specialists for paperwork submissions to avoid approval delays.

How does the candidate show commitment to the industry and bettering their professional career?

The rollout of MHS GENESIS, the Department of Defense’s electronic health record (EHR), is a $5.5 billion contract. MHS GENESIS began its phased rollout across the globe in 2017. When CDR Pham was assigned to DHA in 2019 to assist with the rollout, he realized there was a way to streamline technology adoption for each succeeding wave using lessons learned from previous waves. Initial MHS GENESIS training relied on corporate trainers who lacked detailed understanding of clinical workflows. He and his team led the establishment of the “Pay It Forward Team” (PIFT) comprised of peer experts who were highly experienced in MHS GENESIS applications.  PIFTs: • Deployed to MHS GENESIS launch sites to provide over-the-shoulder assistance to clinicians for 1–2-week intensives. • Taught the intricacies of documentation, workflows, and clinical management from the clinician perspective, improving confidence with and acceptance of MHS GENESIS. • Mentored peers following on-site deployments using game-changing conferencing technology to demonstrate and reproduce errors and problematic workflows through screensharing. Commercial off-the-shelf systems sometimes suffer from inefficiency and incompatibility, requiring help desk interventions and trouble ticket submissions. The initial MHS GENESIS trouble ticket system lacked a triage process, and critical change requests were mixed with administrative change requests, negatively influencing provider support of the new EHR and affecting patient safety. Commander Pham redesigned the change request form so patient safety concerns triggered immediate higher-level reviews and referrals to clinicians. Additionally, a governance process was established to route trouble tickets to appropriate clinical communities for resolution to avoid premature closure by IT technicians. He trained more than 600 providers on help desk trouble ticket operations, developed interim processes pending completion of change requests, and published tip sheets so clinicians could monitor corrections, updates, and follow-up of existing trouble tickets. The online help desk utility lacked a user-friendly interface, so he built a dashboard from scratch for quick visualization of trouble ticket status, improving transparency and accountability for change requests. The number of submitted trouble tickets needing resolution was overwhelming and time-consuming. Commander Pham incorporated common social media conventions of hashtags and ampersands enabling quick searches and automated assignments using Microsoft Outlook. As an example, 415 open and high priority tickets within the oncology clinical community were quickly reduced to 15 in one month. Commander Pham achieved Contracting Officer Representative (COR) III certification, the highest COR level, noteworthy for the degree of responsibility required for managing high-value, complex contracts and recognizing when a program or contract is underperforming. He became familiar with acquisition laws, regulations and policies, and is highly respected for his knowledge in IT acquisition and contracting, cybersecurity, and IT infrastructure connectivity capabilities related to MHS GENESIS.  Commander Pham recently completed his Master of Business Administration with a focus on Health IT and volunteers as an inpatient pharmacist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. He is a member of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society, the American Pharmacists Association, and the Vietnamese American Uniformed Services Association, as well as several other professional organizations.

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