Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt announced Wednesday that Robert Kolodner will serve in a permanent capacity as the head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).And, with the appointment comes a change in the way the position is structured � ensuring continuity beyond the current administration.
During an exclusive interview today with Healthcare IT News, Kolodner said the delay in appointing him had mostly to do with �hammering down the details� of making the position into a permanent career position.
�The key message here is I�m in a career position,� Kolodner said. �This isn�t a political appointment. And this is a statement [on the part of HHS] that this is something that needs to transcend the administration and go forward into the next administration as long as such leadership adds value in achieving secure, interoperable health IT.�
Kolodner said he does not anticipate making any changes in ONC�s already aggressive agenda to accomplish the advancement of healthcare, and his permanent capacity will not change how he operates in the position. �The [HHS] Secretary has made clear all along that I have had authority,� Kolodner said.
Of the appointment, Kolodner said he is �honored to have it� and is looking forward to working �to sustain and accelerate the momentum� already under way.
Prior to working for ONC, Kolodner served as the Veterans Health Administration�s chief health informatics officer. He said his experience at the VA gave him the opportunity to observe the benefits first hand when healthcare IT is pervasive throughout the practice of medicine and when patients have access to electronic health records.
Kolodner emphasized the importance of including privacy in every aspect of healthcare IT advancement.