Reider brings his unique personality to ONC

By Diana Manos
08:50 AM
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While listening to the Nov. 6 meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee, I’ll be honest, I along with probably everyone else, was dying to hear a few words from the latest person to take the helm of ONC, Jacob Reider.

To my surprise – and a little bit to my disappointment – he didn’t have that much to say. But in the little he said, he explained why.

Reider told the committee he’s a family physician, has been at ONC for two years and has been involved in health IT for roughly 20 years – “mostly behind the scenes.”

He is not necessarily outgoing, he says, being a self -described health IT “nerd.” Generally IT nerds are introverted, but he considers himself to be one of the more outgoing among them – an extroverted introvert.

Everything is relative, I guess.

Reider says he likes to think of himself as a facilitator, and he may be seen driving a little less than his predecessor. But, he assures stakeholders, he will make sure we keep the foot on the gas pedal.

As he says this, I’m thinking to myself, following Farzad Mostashari, the former ONC chief, would be a hard act to follow. Of the four national coordinators I have covered over the past seven years, most of them were in the range of what you could call extroverted introverts, as well. Or at least in that ball park. And all of them were extremely effective.

But, Mostashari. Well, he had a way with public speaking. There were times – as I was being drawn in by his latest analogy and persuasive charge to action – I wondered if he’d ever given sermons in the past, or been president of a debate team. He was so natural with the way he paused, lifted and lowered his voice, drew the crowd along, pulled on the ole’ heart strings.

So I say this to you, Jacob Reider: welcome aboard! The job doesn’t necessarily demand extroverted extroverts. Everyone has their own style, and lots gets done in all sorts of ways under all sorts of leadership, as has been shown over the history of the Office of the National Coordinator.

There will be plenty of times for you to jump in and drive. Stage 2 looms large and Stage 3 is on the not-so-distant horizon. mHealth is exploding and the U.S. is on the brink of overhauling the way healthcare is delivered and reimbursed. It’s an amazing time and much has been entrusted to your capable care.