Blumenthal to take over ONC on Monday

By Diana Manos
10:58 AM

David Blumenthal, MD, the newly-appointed National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, will assume the role Monday, April 20.

Speaking at a Thursday session of the 6th Annual World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C., Kelly Cronin, director of the Office of Programs and Coordination at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), said Blumenthal will have a lot on his plate on his first day.

Referring to the stimulus package funding, she said Blumenthal likely would first spend his time "getting his arms around how to get the money out."  

Blumenthal will be responsible for $2 billion in discretionary spending under ONC for grants to be supplied under the economic recovery package. According to Cronin, the money will go in part to grants to states to promote healthcare IT infrastructure, while some funding will be used to train experts to help providers with the transition to HIT. ONC stimulus funding will also be applied to establishing a national research center to provide technical support to providers as they adopt healthcare IT. 

"We are quite excited that we finally do have significant resources" and we can take the advancement of healthcare IT to the next level, Cronin said.

Blumenthal was tapped on March 20 by the Obama administration to replace Robert Kolodner, MD, as ONC chief, who had served in the position since 2007. Since his appointment, he has declined commenting on any of the work he may do at ONC until he actually takes over. His first day on the job was not publicly known until now.

Blumenthal will be leaving an active physician practice with Partners HealthCare in Boston and a professorship at Harvard Medical school to join ONC.

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