Travis Dalton serves as president of Cerner Government Services and is a Pinnacle Awards finalist in the Healthcare Industry Executive of the Year category. Here, he shares key career achievements and professional risks, advice or aspiring leaders, how he’s helping shape the next-generation GovCon leaders and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2018?
I was incredibly proud of the team when Cerner was awarded Department of Veterans Affairs’ Electronic Health Record Modernization contract that will help veterans live longer and healthier lives. We are honored and humbled to be part of this mission, and it’s a privilege to work with a world-class team of partners to deliver it.
VA’s EHRM program is not just about technology, but transformation at scale. The VA has a long history of innovating care and we are building on that foundation and moving forward together. In the last year, we covered significant ground in early stakeholder engagement — engaging VA EHRM leaders, clinicians and end-users through local workshops and site reviews that are critical to implementation at their initial operational capability sites.
Our work at VA builds on the work we are doing as a core partner to Leidos to deploy the same EHR for the Department of Defense. We implemented the solutions at four DOD military treatment facilities, or initial operational capability sites, and saw measurable improvements in patient safety, patient care and efficiency. Our goal was to identify challenges and fine-tune processes early, and we proactively sought feedback so we could continue to optimize and improve the system throughout the lifespan of the program. The lessons learned are also helping us deliver for veterans.
Through these efforts, Cerner is bringing its commercial expertise and insights to achieve more efficient interoperability for the DOD and VA — creating a single health record across more than 1,700 health care sites and a lifetime of seamless care for nearly 20 million service members, veterans and their families.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I am really proud to work with a great team of individuals dedicated to making people’s lives better. We are supporting very large, complex programs, but the progress the team’s been able to accomplish over the past several years is monumental and a testament to their incredible commitment to the mission.
Our approach and commitment to client delivery is core to who we are at Cerner — we are relentless about delivering value that meets our clients’ needs. I embrace that mindset because at the end of the day, we’re only successful when our clients succeed.
My role is to ensure we are focused on the NOW but also the NEXT. I spend a lot of time thinking about vision, mission and culture, and the structure and talent to support those elements. I think the ability to see what is in the windshield, but also the mile markers down the road is critical to success.
It’s also important to have perspective — it’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day, but I focus on why this work matters. At Cerner, we have the opportunity to fundamentally change healthcare for servicemembers and veterans and to improve health outcomes by setting the standard for decades to come.
How do you help shape the next-generation GovCon leaders?
Developing next-level leaders is something I take seriously, and I set aside significant time in helping individuals expand their capacity and courage to lead. At Cerner, I strive to create a work environment to nurture leaders at every level and help them thrive — a client-centric culture that is entrepreneurial, yet humble, inclusive and trusting; disciplined, yet always learning and evolving; and above all, committed to working as one team to achieve something bigger than ourselves — the collective mission.
I am grateful to have many mentors and see every interaction with my team as an opportunity to always be coaching.
What’s your best advice for aspiring leaders who want to follow in your footsteps?
There are three pieces of advice I always try to remember:
- You’ll see the same people on the way down that you saw on the way up, so be good to everybody.
- Find out what your boss’ problems are and solve them.
- Very few people want to lead but everyone looks for leadership regardless of their position. If you take the initiative, you’ll be surprised at how many people will follow.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
I left a well-established business unit within Cerner that I had helped grow to focus on government opportunities. Federal was a new space for Cerner years ago and it was challenging to understand the procurement process, various regulations and policies that are all part of the environment.
At the time I made the switch to federal in 2012, we had one lab client in Huntington, West Virginia. We then had an opportunity to join Leidos in their bid for the Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization program and won. Our VA EHRM contract award followed a few years later.
We still have a lot to execute and deliver on, but it’s been a rewarding journey to see how far we’ve come.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
Without a doubt it was gaining the opportunity to transform federal health care delivery through two of the government’s largest, most complex modernization contracts to date. The work we’re doing to implement a single electronic heath record system across DOD and VA will serve as a catalyst for change to ensure our nation’s veterans and service members receive the quality of care they deserve.
With the extensive data, insights and learnings, we will also help lay the groundwork for nationwide interoperability and standards-based care to drive the best possible patient outcomes for everyone.