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June 10, 2018 | Tom Ballard

HHS, TennCare CTOs offer insights at NHCC luncheon during “Start-up Day Nashville”

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Are you an entrepreneur interested in working with either the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the State of Tennessee’s TennCare Bureau?

Those attending last Wednesday’s Nashville Health Care Council (NHCC) luncheon got some advice on those opportunities from Ed Simcox, Acting Chief Technology Officer at HHS, and Hugh Hale, Chief Information Officer for TennCare. The event was held as part of HHS’ “Start-up Day Nashville” event (see Friday’s feature article).

Hale described his agency’s innovation initiative that relies on organizations like NHCC and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center helping screen and validate ideas that entrepreneurs have in relation to TennCare’s needs and bringing those that are viewed as potential solutions directly to the agency.

Two areas of particular interest to TennCare are artificial intelligence that could provide operational efficiencies to areas like eligibility and big data solutions related to the state’s opioid crisis.

For HHS, Simcox identified semantic learning, supervised and unsupervised learning, natural language processing, and fraud detection. Regarding the latter need, he described the technology solution as “matching-up structured and unstructured data to ensure we have integrity in our systems.”

Michael Burcham, the well-known Nashville entrepreneur, moderated the panel and asked a number of insightful questions. One particularly caught our attention: how to avoid the “pilot project purgatory”

“Be honest and transparent and establish parameters” in any agreement, Hale said. “If I do this, you will do this.”

Simcox’s advice was very similar: “establish what success looks like. What parameters do we have to achieve? Create a discrete beginning and end. (Know) what does the future look like after that.”

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