Bell to succeed Leavitt at CCHIT

By Mary Mosquera
09:39 AM

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology has named Karen Bell, MD, a former executive in the Office of the National Coordinator and an expert in improving health quality, as its chair, effective April 26.

Bell succeeds Mark Leavitt, MD, who has retired after having led CCHIT since its inception in 2004.

CCHIT is currently the sole organization set up to verify and test the capabilities of electronic health record systems, but that's about to change. ONC has proposed a rule to establish new processes and requirements for multiple organizations to certify health IT system performance. 
Bell most recently was senior vice president of health IT services at Masspro, a Massachusetts organization that studies and develops healthcare quality improvement methods.

Previously, she was director of ONC's Office of Health Information Technology Adoption and ONC's acting deputy. She was also ONC's representative on CCHIT's board of commissioners from 2006 to 2008.

Bell said she anticipated "a new phase" of health IT certification, describing it as filled with "expanded opportunities and challenges."
"The commission has a trusted name and processes and is already well respected for its nimbleness, creativity, transparency and inclusiveness," she said, adding that she would work to build on that foundation "in this rapidly evolving health IT environment."

Bell has also been division director for the quality improvement group in the office of standards and quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and medical director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
CCHIT selected Bell for her "wealth of experience in and enthusiasm for electronic health records and the important role they play in helping to assure the high quality of the nation's healthcare," said Frank Trembulak, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Geisinger Health System. Trembulak is chairman of the CCHIT board of trustees.  

Bell is a graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and has experience as an internal medicine practitioner and as an associate professor at University of Rochester and clinical instructor at Harvard University School of Medicine.