ONC chief privacy officer to step down

Thanks to Joy Pritts, 'privacy and security have become engrained in the ONC culture,' says DeSalvo
By Diana Manos
11:25 AM
Joy Pritts

Joy Pritts, the first chief privacy officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, is leaving her post.

[See also: New HHS rule broadens patient access]

After serving more than four and a half years, July 12 will be Pritts last day, according to an internal memo issued by national coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD.

Pritts brought to ONC a "wealth of knowledge of and deep relationships in the health information technology and privacy communities," DeSalvo wrote.

[See also: ONC makes big changes at the top]

"Thanks to her efforts, privacy and security have become engrained in the ONC culture and are increasingly being recognized as crucial elements of health IT by our stakeholders," DeSalvo added.

"Joy made it clear to me and the Secretary that she was committed to seeing me through my beginning tenure as National Coordinator, and has been an invaluable advisor to me over the last 5 months," DeSalvo continued. "She has served not only as ONC’s point person on privacy and security, but, as a practical matter, has served as a key advisor to the Secretary and across the federal government on these crucial issues."

DeSalvo said Pritts helped ONC to have "a significant impact" on improving patient privacy, and helped in the development of regulations that give patients direct access to their lab test results.

"Joy and her team have made great strides in furthering policy and technology that improves individuals’ ability to choose when and how their health information may be electronically exchanged," according to DeSalvo.

In addition, Pritts' team has also provided technical assistance to providers HIT security.

"Thanks to Joy’s perseverance, for the first time the Secretary’s Strategic Initiatives include a distinct initiative addressing privacy and security," DeSalvo wrote.

At the end of the memo, DeSalvo emphasized her own personal commitment to privacy.

"I am committed to stressing the responsibility shared by all with regard to privacy and security in health information technology," she said. "Fortunately, Joy has built a strong team that will continue the important work she started, and will help carry on the legacy of work to ensure that health IT is used to improve the health of all Americans in a private and secure manner."

DeSalvo noted she will be working with Pritts to identify an acting CPO, as well as a permanent replacement to ensure a smooth transition.