Blumenthal to leave ONC and Return to Harvard in Spring.

David Blumenthal, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, is stepping down from the helm at ONC this spring, the office confirmed Thursday.

 Blumenthal, 62, was named by President Obama in March 2009 to serve as the ONC’s leader. Blumenthal succeeded Dr. Robert Kolodner to become the third head of the ONC. Dr. David Brailer was the first ONC director when the position was created in 2004 by order of then-President George W. Bush.

“As you know, I have told Secretary Sebelius that I will be returning to my academic home this spring, as was planned when I accepted the position,” Blumenthal said in a memo to the ONC staff. “While we still have important work to do together, including the assurance of a productive transition for ONC, now is the time for me to express my deep gratitude to all of my ONC colleagues, and my admiration for all you have accomplished.”

Sebelius, in a memo, said Blumenthal will leave having “created real momentum for (health information technology) adoption.” The Harvard researcher “charted a course for the meaningful use of EHRs and launched a new phase of cooperative and supportive work with the healthcare community, states and cities across the nation,” Sebelius said.

Before joining the Obama administration, Blumenthal, an internist, was a director of the Institute for Health Policy at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners HealthCare System in Boston. He was professor of medicine and healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School and was director of the Harvard University Interfaculty Program for Health Systems Improvement. 

 “David will leave his post having built a strong foundation, created real momentum for (health information technology) adoption, charted a course for the meaningful use of (electronic health records) and launched a new phase of cooperative and supportive work with the health care community, states, and cities across the nation,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a memo.

David Brailer, President George W. Bush’s health IT “czar,” was complimentary of his successor. “He’s taken all the good things that we got started and laid it into a very durable, much more sophisticated framework. We had an upstart insurgent group and he turned it into a standing, legitimate agency.”

“Dr. Blumenthal always had an open ear to our issues.  We appreciate his sensativity to our community and for making minority HIT adoption a priority,’  said Jose Marquez, President – The National Latino Alliance on Health information Technology   

“I think one of the other successes that Dr. Blumenthal has done is pull together a great team of people around him. … When it’s time for him to move on, I think there are many capable people,” said David Roberts, a Washington lobbyist for the Health Information and Management Systems Society.


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