ONC restructures, charts a new course

Also sets 10-year timetable for interoperability
By Tom Sullivan
01:42 PM
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Anyone following the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has witnessed signs that changes were coming since Karen DeSalvo, MD, took the helm.

And late Friday afternoon DeSalvo outlined what the next era will look like, noting that key focus areas include implementing an interoperability roadmap, supporting care transformation, care quality and safety, public health, as well as establishing a framework that will advance not only health IT but also meaningful consumer engagement.

"As we pivot to a new decade, these few strategic organizational changes allow us to better align the agency to meet the needs of the future," national coordinator DeSalvo wrote in an email to ONC staff. "This functional realignment will improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of ONC by combining similar functions, elevating critical priority functions, and providing a flatter and more accountable reporting structure."

Specifically, ONC will comprise offices similar to the way it did before, and the heads of those will report to DeSalvo and deputy national coordinator Jacob Reider, MD. Those are:

• Office of Care Transformation: Kelly Cronin
• Office of the Chief Privacy Officer: Joy Pritts
• Office of the Chief Operating Officer: Lisa Lewis
• Office of the Chief Scientist: Doug Fridsma, MD
• Office of Clinical Quality and Safety: Judy Murphy, RN
• Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis: Seth Pazinski
• Office of Policy: Jodi Daniel
• Office of Programs: Kim Lynch
• Office of Public Affairs and Communications: Nora Super 
• Office of Standards and Technology: Steve Posnack 

To arrive at this structure, DeSalvo wrote, she and other ONC officers have spent the past few months reviewing previous organizations structures, listening to staffers and prior ONC leaders, and collecting input from stakeholders both with the Department of Health and Human Services and outside of it.

"The HITECH Act's health IT infrastructure and program investments are ending and it is our responsibility to take this opportunity to reshape our agency to be as efficient and effective as possible, never losing sight of our primary accountability – the people of America," DeSalvo explained. "Now it is time to begin the next chapter to promote interoperable health IT solutions that support the ultimate goal of better health for all."