Kolodner joins Open Health Tools

For­mer ONC head stays con­sis­tent in new IT job

Modern Healthcare - - The Week In Healthcare - Joseph Conn

In a boost to the open-source elec­tronic health-records move­ment, Robert Kolodner, for­mer head of the Of­fice of the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for Health In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, joined Open Health Tools, as chief health in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer.

“We’re still work­ing through the de­tails,” Kolodner said of his spe­cific du­ties. “It’s all about per­son­al­cen­tered health and im­prov­ing the health of in­di­vid­u­als world­wide. We’re looking at in­no­va­tive ways to col­lab­o­rate and es­tab­lish­ing sort of a hy­brid open-source tech­nol­ogy.”

Based in Asheville, N.C., Open Health Tools is a com­mu­nity of global IT cor­po­ra­tions, aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions, gov­ern­ment and not-for­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, and in­di­vid­u­als whose aim is “to cre­ate a com­mon health in­ter­op­er­abil­ity frame­work, ex­em­plary tools and ref­er­ence applications to sup­port health in­for­ma­tion in­ter­op­er­abil­ity,” ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Web site. Launched in 2007, Open Health Tools uses the le­gal frame­work and soft­ware­de­vel­op­ment tools of the Eclipse Foun­da­tion, a pop­u­lar soft­ware­de­vel­op­ment plat­form. One of the pi­o­neers of the Eclipse Foun­da­tion, Skip McGaughey, is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Open Health Tools.

Mem­bers of Open Health Tools in­clude such fa­mil­iar names in health­care IT as IBM Corp., Misys, Or­a­cle and Red Hat. Other mem­bers in­clude DSS Inc., which con­tracts with the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Depart­ment and of­fers its own open-source ver­sion of the VA’s VistA clin­i­cal IT sys­tem; stan­dards de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion Health Level 7; Canada Health In­foway; Ore­gon State Uni­ver­sity Open Source Lab; the U.S. In­dian Health Ser­vice; and the VA.

Kolodner, a psy­chi­a­trist and Yale med­i­cal school grad­u­ate, served 28 years at the VA and was among the IT pi­o­neers who helped de­velop its De­cen­tral­ized Hospi­tal Com­puter Pro­gram, later re­named VistA. He was the chief med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer at the VA in 2006 when he trans­ferred to HHS as in­terim head of the ONC. Kolodner was named as head of the ONC in 2007.

At the ONC, Kolodner co­or­di­nated all fed­eral health­care IT ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing the cre­ation and release by the Fed­eral Health Ar­chi­tec­ture ini­tia­tive in April of Con­nect— an open-source soft­ware in­ter­face be­tween fed­eral IT sys­tems and the pro­posed na­tional health in­for­ma­tion net­work. He was re­placed at ONC by David Blu­men­thal later that month and had been serv­ing as an IT ad­viser to the gov­ern­ment un­til his re­tire­ment on Sept. 22.

Kolodner: “We’re looking at in­no­va­tive ways to col­lab­o­rate.”

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