New HHS CTO Susannah Fox's 3 big inspirations

Incoming chief technologist shares reasons that excite her most about taking the post.
By Tom Sullivan
08:07 AM
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HHS

Susannah Fox revealed in a blog post Thursday that she has accepted the job as chief technology officer of Health and Human Services.

Fox is renowned for her work as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and, before that, as director of the Pew Research Center’s health and technology portfolio – where she dubbed herself an “Internet geologist.”

In the HHS IdeaLab post, Fox wrote that she intends to build on the work of her predecessors: Bryan Sivak, who held the title of both CTO and entrepreneur-in-residence and Todd Park, former athenahealth executive and enthusiastic proponent of data liberacion, who was the department's first CTO.

Fox went on to outline three “possibilities” that drew her to HHS.

1. The opportunity to continue Park’s data liberacion work. “I’m a health data geek from way back and think we’ve only just begun to harness its power,” she explained.

2. A chance to “nurture the entrepreneurial spirit” Sivak injected into the department. “His IdeaLab team ignited across all 11 HHS operating divisions,” Fox continued. “Their participatory approach to solving problems matches my own methods.” 

3. Her desire to “shine a spotlight on” how citizens are bolstering the health of America. “Technology’s true impact is only just now emerging in this area. The Internet gives us greater access to information, yes, but even more importantly, it gives us access to each other.”

Fox is the third chief technologist at HHS and the first woman to take the post.

After three years on the job, Sivak announced at March’s end that he would departing, while Park served from 2009-2012 before stepping into the federal CTO role.

Related: 

Flashback Q&A: 3 questions with outgoing HHS CTO Bryan Sivak