Perot wins work to run women's health site

Women and girls in search of health care answers might find themselves getting help from one of the country's largest systems integrators.

Government health care Web sites www.womenshealth.gov and www.girlshealth.gov are staffed and operated by Perot Systems Corp. The company recently won a five-year, $16.1 million Health and Human Services Department contract to run the Web sites for the Office of Women's Health and provide staff to answer questions via a toll-free number.

The Web sites provide free information on more than 800 topics, including nutrition and physical activity, minority health, birth control, pregnancy and reproductive health, breast-feeding, mental health, and illnesses and disabilities.

The site also is a clearinghouse for statistics and publications issued by the National Women's Health Information Center. Some of the publications and data are available in Spanish and Chinese.

Other services provided by Perot include the toll-free hotline (800-994-9662), which also serves as the National Breast-feeding Helpline, and a Telecommunications Display Device line (800-220-5446). The call center gets about 3,000 calls each month, said James Ballard, president of Perot Systems Government Services of Fairfax, Va.

Perot took over the original contract when in 1998 it acquired Soza and Company Ltd. of Fairfax, Va. Soza won the contract in 1998.

Perot Systems has a team of 21 staffers, many who hold advanced degrees in health care-related fields. The staff answers the phones, researches health information, writes content for the Web site and designs its tools and illustrations.

Staffers also attend health care conferences and maintain communications with other women's health associations to get the latest information for the Web site, Ballard said.

Staffers who speak Spanish are available to answer questions on the phone, and a section of the Web site is in Spanish at www.womenshealth.gov/spanish/. Perot Systems plans to create a separate Web address for Spanish-language information that will mirror the English-language site. There is also a men's health section in English at www.womenshealth.gov/mens/.

"Everybody is looking for government to be more responsive," Ballard said. "You don't want to go someplace and be put on hold and transferred 14 different places to get a piece of information.

"This is the epitome of what a citizen-centric government is going to look like when there's one-stop shopping. You don't have to go to 14 different places. You come to one place," he said.

The staff also researches and writes content for the Office on Women's Health's two-year-old Web site for girls between 10 and 16 years old. Perot Systems plans to translate sections of the site into Spanish soon.

Perot Systems hosts the two Web sites and the call-center facility at its office in Fairfax. In August, the women's health Web site received more than 30.2 million hits, while the girls' health Web site got about 305,750 hits, according to the company.

As part of the new contract work, Perot System will continue to support the girls' health Web site, which promotes healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Topics include fitness, relationships, understanding body changes and dealing with social challenges.

The company also is researching and writing a free women's health daybook containing a calendar and reference guide, which will be available Oct. 1. Orders can be placed through the women's health Web site or the call center. Perot Systems also plans to issue a comprehensive women's health guide for 2008.

"When somebody thinks about how they want government to operate, whether it's at the state and local or federal level, this is the way you want it to operate," Ballard said.

Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Perot Systems has more than 18,000 employees and posted 2005 revenue of $2 billion. Its government services subsidiary, which offers consulting, technology-based solutions and program management support to the federal government, accounted for 14 percent of total revenue last year. Perot Systems is No. 44 on Washington Technology's 2006 Top 100 list.

Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin can be reached at rgerin@postnewsweektech.com.

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