BearingPoint calls a doctor

BearingPoint has set its sights for 2006 on the government health care market with its recent hire of former Navy Surgeon General Dr. Michael Cowan, whom the company hired to help develop its practice.

The consulting firm sees a largely untapped market in public health, and plans to extend its reach in the Department of Veterans Affairs, the military health system and medical benefits programs, such as Medicare. Cowan, who will serve as chief medical officer of health services, also has private-sector experience. Before joining BearingPoint, he was senior vice president of health care solutions at Oracle. He also served as deputy director and chief operating officer at Tricare, the health insurance program for active-duty military personnel, their families and retired service members.

At BearingPoint, he will lead the development of new services, guide the firm's recruitment and development of key health care professionals, and provide leadership in the health care and social services markets. His information technology experience includes participation in the development and implementation of several programs including Tricare Online, Navy Medicine Online and the Tricare Unified Enrollment Database.

Cowan said the firm sees different opportunities in several market areas under the umbrella of federal health care services. The common thread among them is that they are all undergoing transformations to become more connected through IT.

"We as a change agent are in a position to be of great aid to them," Cowan said. "There will be lots of opportunities for BearingPoint to provide service."

He said his strength is his 33 years as a consumer of services provided by similar firms and his understanding of customer needs.

In all of the various roles he has played during his career, Cowan said, "I was attracted by the potential that information technology had to improve the quality of health care we deliver to our patients. I was frequently frustrated by how much these things could cost and when they didn't live up to the potential."

Kelvin Womack, BearingPoint's federal health services lead, said Cowan's hiring "significantly energizes a push we had already started." BearingPoint's leaders are now developing specific plans to approach the market in coming months, he said.

Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Federal Sources Inc., said the firm's move corresponds with evolving federal priorities.

"This kind of signals that there is in fact a market for health care technology, health IT and health care technology management," he said.

BearingPoint is the type of firm that is well-suited to move into the health care market, Bjorklund said. "BearingPoint, like a lot of other professional services providers, has a lot of methodologies, a lot of domain experience and a lot of technology experience."

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