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For more than a year, I’ve been working almost exclusively for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in support of Healthcare.gov, or the Affordable Care Act.
My current role is a capstone-type thing. We’re the team that supports Healthcare.gov and the marketplace. We’re responsible for the operations of the site during open enrollment—every second, 20 to 25 Americans are enrolling for healthcare coverage.
The marketplace team includes several thousands of people. To be at the center of that and responsible for making that happen is certainly a career highlight.
Senior Vice President Travis Burd is a leader in the firm’s civil health business, supporting technology initiatives for clients such as the Department of Health and Human Services.
Most recently, Travis led the Marketplace System Integrator (MSI) contract for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where Booz Allen provides leadership for systems integration for Healthcare.gov. It’s a complex system of systems that provides individuals with the ability to shop for and purchase health insurance across the individual marketplace.
As a senior leader organizing and delivering large, complex systems development programs, Travis has supported capture and proposal development for the firm’s key opportunities at federal agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Travis is also leading several initiatives to further develop the firm’s Digital Solutions capability and talent base, including Agile coaching and the 2015 acquisition of the software development firm SPARC.
Prior to joining Booz Allen, Travis led large systems development outsourcing and modernization programs for commercial clients in the telecommunications and health insurance industries at Keane, Inc.
Travis has a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and lives with his wife and two young daughters in Baltimore, Maryland.
Why are you passionate about the work that you’re doing at Booz Allen? Because it makes a difference. The work that we do, particularly at Healthcare.gov, is making a difference in the lives of 30 million Americans, folks who couldn’t get coverage because of pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, or just affordability or accessibility of healthcare—by supporting and implementing this program and making it work for people, and making sure it’s available 24/7/365. It’s just gratifying to know that the work that we do—and we work really super-duper hard—knowing what a difference that makes in people’s lives is fulfilling.
Especially with CMS and Healthcare.gov, how do you help your clients prepare for the future? We’re coming up on 5 years since the ACA was passed and implemented, and what was available in the market in terms of cloud hosting for government solutions, security for cloud solutions, data analytics platforms—all that’s changed in the last 5 years. We’re at the heart of helping the government determine what’s best for the marketplace and then helping them realize how to take advantage of those kinds of things. It’s very exciting.
What are your clients’ most pressing needs? It’s how to continue to lower the costs of healthcare for all Americans, be that care, be that prescription drugs, be that a whole host of things. That’s a huge challenge. How to better establish ways to pay for care so that we are paying for results instead of service. So finding new and innovative ways to bundle care together and to pay for outcomes is huge. Then, in particular for the marketplace, to understand how with changes in the administration what the marketplace looks like and how to best implement that so that it continues to build on the promise of the original ACA.
What do you see as CMS’ biggest untapped opportunities? There’s a fair amount of overlap. But there’s still a lot to be written with respect to how to better work with pharma to get to drug pricing that allows them to develop new medicines, new cures, new treatments, but also that makes it so that those are affordable. Through Medicare and Medicaid, CMS is one of the largest purchasers of services from doctors, so finding ways to continue to improve the quality of care by the way folks are incentivized through payment. Continuing to find where those opportunities are and then develop systems that can reliably predict where those changes could be and best enforce those policies with the physician opportunity is a really untapped opportunity as well.
What mentorship advice would you give someone who took on a new leadership role? Always be honest. The truth is always the best answer, even if sometimes it’s the hardest.
What is the best business advice you’ve received in your career? There’s no free lunch.
What’s the best piece of general advice you’ve ever received? If you look at your life and you’re always disappointing the same people, you’re doing something wrong.
What is an obsolete item that you cannot get rid of? Probably 25 extra pounds.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far? Having a loving family, having two great kids and helping them grow and be happy kids is by far my greatest accomplishment.
What can we do to be happier? Be present. Enjoy what’s going on. Don’t waste time by not being in the moment.