Halamka makes 'tough decision' to leave Harvard

By Molly Merrill
11:01 AM

John Halamka, MD, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, announced last week on his blog that he will be “passing the baton” as CIO of Harvard Medical School to a “new IT leader.”

Halamaka wrote that it was a “tough decision” but ultimately he believes that HMS deserves a CIO that can give 100 percent of his or her time to “the innovation required to support healthcare reform."

In a letter to Richard G. Mills, Harvard Medical's executive dean for administration, Halamka wrote, “I am grateful for your support over the past decade. I am confident that the expansion of the CIO role to a full time position is the right thing to do for HMS.”

Halamka said he “will continue to serve the dean of HMS as an advisor on strategic projects, especially those which require cross-affiliate and clinical coordination."

He added that, "in collaboration with the IT stakeholders of HMS, I will work to find my replacement."

“John has agreed to help in the search for his full-time successor, retaining his CIO role through the period of transition in IT leadership,” wrote Mills in a communication sent out to the HMS community announcing Halamka's transition. “We will embark on a search for a full-time CIO shortly, aligning the position’s current responsibilities with future needs."

He added that Halamka "will transition from his role as HMS chief information officer, to devote himself to transforming healthcare IT from his base at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. …"

As for to what he will do there, Halamka wrote, "Once my successor is found, I will take on additional challenges implementing the next stages of meaningful use, healthcare reform and new healthcare information exchange initiatives at BIDMC, in Massachusetts and nationwide.”

Jeffrey S. Flier, dean of Harvard Medical School, said Halamka’s achievements in the IT world are unparalleled.

“John is a remarkable individual whose impact on information technology at HMS has reverberated around the country," he said. "Admired as a teacher, a prolific writer and an emergency physician, John generously shares his expertise. Countries around the world have benefited immeasurably from his relentless quest to harness IT for the sake of health care reform, clinical efficiency, patient safety and research."