Mean­ing­ful use af­ter Blu­men­thal

Health IT com­mu­nity op­ti­mistic about fu­ture

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page - Joseph Conn

Hos­pi­tals, physi­cians and their in­for­ma­tion technology lead­ers will have to plunge for­ward in meet­ing the govern­ment’s cri­te­ria for mean­ing­ful use of health IT with­out the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ubiq­ui­tous evan­ge­list for the cause.

Dr. David Blu­men­thal, na­tional co­or­di­na­tor for health IT at HHS, an­nounced last week that he will be re­turn­ing to re­search work at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity.

Health IT com­mu­nity mem­bers, how­ever, were op­ti­mistic that the or­ga­ni­za­tional mo­men­tum Blu­men­thal cre­ated would con­tinue af­ter he leaves of­fice this spring.

In a note to his staff, Blu­men­thal said a twoyear term limit “was planned when I ac­cepted the po­si­tion.” Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ap­pointed him in March 2009. Har­vard con­firmed its pol­icy lim­its sab­bat­i­cals to two years, mean­ing he would lose his uni­ver­sity ap­point­ments if he stayed on longer at the ONC. Blu­men­thal’s re­place­ment has not been named, and a spe­cific date for his de­par­ture was not re­vealed.

Dr. Peter Basch, med­i­cal di­rec­tor for elec­tronic health records and health IT pol­icy at MedS­tar Health, Columbia, Md., said Blu­men­thal’s prior use of elec­tronic healthrecord sys­tems in his med­i­cal prac­tice served him well in his ONC job.

“Re­ally, from the be­gin­ning—he was cho­sen as a non-IT per­son lead­ing the IT strat­egy—I felt com­fort­able,” said Basch, a mem­ber of three

Blu­men­thal, who will step down as na­tional co­or­di­na­tor for health IT at HHS, said a two-year limit was planned when he ac­cepted the

po­si­tion.

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