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Morton in, Fridsma out in separate ONC staff transactions

Months after restructuring its internal organization, the ONC now has to adjust to two recent major staff changes. U.S. Navy Capt. Alicia Morton was announced as the next director of the ONC Health IT EHR Certification Program in an email sent to ONC staff from Steve Posnack, director of the ONC’s Office of Standards and Technology. Another memo, sent internally by the National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, M.D., relayed the news of Doug Fridsma’s resignation as ONC chief science officer to take a new position as president and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association later this year. ONC forwarded both emails to media.

Fridsma joins Lygeia Ricciardi, former director of the Consumer eHealth Program and Office and Joy Pritts, ex-chief privacy officer, as ONC department heads that have departed since July. Lana Moriarty was named as Ricciardi’s acting successor in time to attend National Health IT Week, while a replacement for Pritts, a political appointee, has yet to be announced. In her announcement, DeSalvo notes that Fridsma was “a key technical advisor” to her and past ONC heads and credits him for his role in leading the design of the Standards & Interoperability Framework.

Alicia Morton’s career background was covered in Posnack’s email to ONC staff. Morton has served at ONC since 2005, working for CMS and the National Institutes of Health prior to that. She joined ONC in 2005 to lead their contract with CCHIT, an independent organization that formerly tested and certified EHRs under the ONC’s authorization. One of Morton’s duties at CMS, where she worked from 2003-2005, was overseeing the development of the Doctor’s Office Quality-Information Technology project. She follows Carol Bean as ONC certification director.

At a staff meeting in late May, DeSalvo revealed the ONC’s plan to reduce their number of internal offices from 17 to 10. DeSalvo explained the timing for the reshuffling was brought on by reductions to health IT investments under the HITECH Act. She also explained that the changes were made after consulting with senior staff members and past ONC staff, and would focus on stimulating interoperability and patient engagement.

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