Kolodner's stint at ONCHIT continues

By Nancy Ferris
12:00 AM

Dr. Robert Kolodner will remain interim national coordinator of health information technology at the Department of Health and Human Services on loan from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA's chief health informatics officer has been leading the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT since September 2006. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt announced the extension of his detail from the VA Jan. 23, thanking the VA for the continued loan of one of its senior career officials.

Dr. David Brailer, the first national coordinator, resigned in April 2006. Dr. Karen Bell, who leads ONCHIT's health IT adoption office, was acting national coordinator until HHS appointed Kolodner.

Kolodner said Jan. 23 that he did not know the extension's length.

A longtime national leader in health IT, Kolodner is well-regarded, and many in the field say he should become the permanent coordinator.

Little has been said publicly about the search for a permanent coordinator, and rumors indicate that Congress' failure to pass a health IT bill making the Office of the National Coordinator a permanent part of HHS has made filling the post even more difficult.

A new coordinator would be on the job for less than two years if the office disappears at the end of the Bush administration.