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Executive Spotlight: Alex Dixon, Defense Health Agency Market Leader at Maximus

Alex Dixon

DHA Market Leader


Executive Spotlight: Alex Dixon, Defense Health Agency Market Leader at Maximus

Alex Dixon’s role in government contracting was foretold as a native Washingtonian. His father consulted with multiple agencies and passed along his interest in the Department of Defense and national security.

Alex started as a contract specialist with the Department of the Navy where he learned the budgetary and business dimensions of the DOD while keeping focus on the mission of national defense. As his career progressed, he built on that foundation and added capabilities in military health.

As Maximus’s market leader for the Defense Health Agency, Alex understands the agency’s mission, technological needs and how innovation can accelerate service delivery.

In this Executive Spotlight interview, he describes how his background fits well with the direction of the Military Health System, DHA and Maximus’s capabilities.

Talk about your background and adapting to the ever-changing challenges of the federal landscape.

As a young professional in the acquisition world of the federal government, I had the good fortune of being part of a shared service contracting agency. Working in a counterterrorism office of the Navy, I was exposed to multiple programs and missions that seemingly had me on a defined career path. Within a short time of starting that role, 9/11 happened and everything changed.

Missions expanded as we focused on finding the attackers, their networks, finances, and anything else connected to them. Procurement changed because more funding became available, and every agency had to adjust to the renewed sense of purpose in the role of government.

In my area, accelerating procurement lead times became paramount. Our programs needed to develop, test, and deploy counter-terrorism technology. We adapted to these new business dynamics for federal government acquisition by utilizing efficiencies within regulations to ensure acquisition supported the mission.

As a consultant to federal agencies, I’ve learned about even broader mission sets and budgetary landscapes for health-related agencies. To me, the MHS and DHA stand out because I can’t think of a more noble mission than supporting the health of our military service members and retirees. These are veterans and families who served this country and require health services.

Exclusively focused on DHA, I bring Maximus’s technology and other innovative capabilities to support DHA’s modernization programs that serve beneficiaries.

What are the core values that you believe are essential to build a great team and establish a foundation to drive success in such a competitive industry?

I appreciate the principles within the model for High Reliability Organizations because they track so well with team-building fundamentals. For example, psychological safety empowers individuals to speak up on issues, problems and risks without fear of reprisal regardless of their position on a team.

A second core value is a commitment to resilience. Mistakes happen but what’s important is leveraging those to learn, continuously improve and measure improvements.

A third point from the HRO framework is acknowledging expertise over seniority. Individuals who are the most relevant source of information need to be heard in order to move the team forward and support the customer’s mission.

A final core value centers around the idea of sensitivity to operations. There must be an understanding of how changes impact the users, systems, and processes outside the immediate need. DHA, for example, operates treatment facilities around the world. They need to know how a legacy system modernization program affects doctors, nurses, and care teams. They need to understand the impact to programs for electronic health records as well as reform of the TRICARE health plan.

With emerging technology influencing the federal government and industry more by the day, what are challenges on the business side of innovation that aren’t always discussed?

There’s always a balance with innovation. It must connect to the mission and establish the right expectations for resources requirements, time involved, and return on investment. Innovation for the sake of innovation doesn’t work.

At Maximus, we’ve found that incubating innovation means making investments in advanced technology and ensuring they are valuable to DHA’s mission. Using cybersecurity and DevSecOps, for example, we have built virtual reality environments and apps to support clinicians, patients, and caregivers. This has led to a new level of health care while being realistic on investment and sensitive to operational impacts.

Another challenge to innovation is including the appropriate level of planning. DHA has gone through this as part of its worldwide deployment of an electronic health record system and that same rigor needs to be in place as it modernizes other systems. Some systems will be kept for mission or cost reasons, and the best way to determine that is to follow the ROCM methodology: rationalize what to keep and what to renew; optimize what you keep; consolidate where possible; and modernize the systems you can with improved technology. Security and zero trust principles always remain a priority, especially with healthcare data and privacy.

Last, it’s a challenge for teams to maintain mission focus when they get into the details of modernization projects. Leaders can address this by reinforcing the goal of improving the health of service members, veterans, family members, and beneficiaries.

What does Maximus specifically offer government clients?

Maximus business brings a lot of capability to the federal government. The company started in 1975, and we have longstanding relationships with many agencies. We have 200+ active federal contracts and we’re ranked as a top 20 federal contractor. We’ve built fast supercomputers run by the government, have multiple FedRAMP solutions, and delivered critical programs for health agencies.

With our history of partnership with the federal government, a foundation in technology, and ability to deliver purposeful innovation, Maximus enables agencies to execute their mission with a positive and sustainable impact. That’s a powerful capability, especially in a digital environment where change is constant.

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