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Health IT community welcomes new ONC head, Donald Rucker

Donald Rucker has been named the new ONC head. The former Siemens CMO has been welcomed to the position of national coordinator by the health IT community.

When Donald Rucker's name appeared on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) employee directory as the national coordinator for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), the health IT world began to buzz with what it felt was good news.

HHS and ONC have yet to officially announce the appointment of the former Siemens chief medical officer of 13 years as ONC head, but the health IT community is welcoming Rucker and his expertise into the position of national coordinator.

Karen DeSalvo, a former national coordinator who resigned in August 2016 and was replaced by Vindell Washington, M.D., welcomed Rucker to the public service arena on Twitter.

Washington, who resigned from the position of national coordinator in January 2017, welcomed Rucker on twitter as well: "Welcome @donrucker! Important work on the horizon."

Jon White, M.D., took over after Washington as acting national coordinator. It is reported that he will return to his post as deputy national coordinator.

Donald Rucker's background

According to Rucker's LinkedIn profile, in addition to serving as Siemen's CMO for 13 years, Rucker, M.D., has also served as CMO for Premise Health based in Brentwood, Tenn. He is currently a professor of clinical emergency medicine and biomedical informatics at Ohio State University in Columbus.

[Rucker's] experience on the provider and vendor side should serve him well at ONC given the agency's role in Meaningful Use, especially creating EHR certification rules.
CHIME spokesperson

Rucker is no stranger to health IT. He has built and developed healthcare technologies, including co-developing a Microsoft Windows-based electronic health record and designing a computerized physician order entry module at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Rucker also has clinical experience working at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass., and at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Health IT welcomes new ONC head

Meg Marshall, senior director of public policy at Cerner said in an email that, "we appreciate his support of innovative technology to advance valued-base care, and we look forward to working with him and our continued work with his team."

A College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) spokesperson said in an email that "[Rucker's] experience on the provider and vendor side should serve him well at ONC given the agency's role in meaningful use, especially creating EHR certification rules. As we move into the next critical stages of assessing the Meaningful Use program, we are pleased to see the administration rounding out its health IT policy team. CHIME is committed to working with the administration and Congress as we address the future of meaningful use, improve interoperability and optimize health IT to improve patient care."

Next Steps

Karen DeSalvo steps down from ONC to focus on HHS

Vindell Washington disputes report on doctor discontent with EHRs

Former national coordinator racks up steps with wearable device

Dig Deeper on Federal health care policy issues and health care reform

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What will you look for from the new ONC head?
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Define/Describe and Proscribe/Prescribe are two separate activities of the ONC and other government agencies also.

Government has always had a role in defining standard measurements.   This role has recently been confused with proscribing/mandating those measurements.

Government can define what is a yard, what is a meter.  But for the government to mandate use of the English-American vs the Metric system is quite different from defining measurements.

Healthcare and IT measurements are the same.  The ONC (and other agencies) should clearly define terms so we speak the same language.  But they should be careful what they mandate.  Both value based and performance based reasons exist for this.

The most important reason is that technology innovation moves rapidly.   Government bureaucracy moves very slowly regardless of who controls the bureaucracy.   We should not be burdened with obsolete technology mandated by the slow bureaucracy.
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