Potential successors for top ONC post

A look at potential successors for top ONC post

The announcement Aug. 6 that Farzad Mostashari, MD, would be stepping down from his job as national coordinator for health information technology this fall generated much praise about his passion for the work, and his many achievements.

[See also: Praise rolls in for Mostashari]

However, no one who spoke with Healthcare IT News (sister publication of PhysBizTech) was willing to offer names of potential candidates to fill what many say are extraordinarily big shoes.

Bill Spooner, vice president and chief information officer of Sharp Healthcare in San Diego, said he couldn't immediately suggest a successor, but did offer that, "I would like to see someone from community healthcare, where adoption and patient engagement are still challenging, lead ONC."

Russ Branzell, CEO of CHIME, which represents more than 1,400 healthcare CIOs, said little more on the matter of a successor. He and the CHIME membership, he said, hope the next ONC chief would be able to build on Mostashari’s legacy. Branzell said he would like to see someone who has worked in the trenches, as Mostashari had in New York City, as a doctor, nurse or CIO.

[See also: Mostashari: A look back at the headlines]

There were several names mentioned a few years back to replace outgoing ONC chief David Blumenthal, MD, before Mostashari took the post. Among them was John Halamka, MD, the well-known CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and co-chair of the federal Health IT Standards Committee. Another was Bill Bria, MD, CIO at Shriners Hospitals for Children and founder of AMDIS.

Insiders have also noted a deep bench of professionals at ONC who could be up to the task. Here is a quartet, derived from the ONC organizational chart:

With the title of principal deputy national coordinator, David Muntz would fulfill Branzell's hope for someone who’s worked in the trenches. Muntz works with Mostashari and oversees the activities of the four offices within ONC: Office of the Deputy National Coordinator for Programs and Policy; Office of the Deputy National Coordinator for Operations; Office of Economic Analysis, Evaluation, and Modeling; and the Office of the Chief Scientist. Before joining ONC, Muntz served as CIO at Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, where he was responsible for more than 730 information services employees who cared for a delivery system with more than 280 points of entry. And, before Baylor, he served as CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas for 15 years.

Judy Murphy, RN, is deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at ONC. She coordinates federal efforts to assist healthcare providers and organizations in adopting health information technology. She also works to promote consumers’ greater understanding and use of health information technology for their own health. She came to ONC in December 2011 with more than 25 years of health informatics experience at Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, where she served as VP-EHR applications. Her informatics interests lie in system implementation, health IT project management, patient engagement, and the use of technology to support evidence-based practice; she has published and lectured nationally and internationally on these topics. She has a long-standing reputation of patient advocacy and maintaining a “patient-centric” point of view. She has served on the Health IT Standards Committee since its inception in May 2009.

Doug Fridsma, MD, serves as chief science officer and  director of ONC’s Office of Science & Technology. Before he joined ONC, Fridsma was on the teaching staff in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Arizona State University and, as a practicing internal medicine physician, had a clinical practice at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale. Fridsma, serves as an interoperability guru, responsible for all programs at ONC that are focused on providing a foundation for interoperable health information exchange.

Jacob Reider, MD, director of ONC’s Office of the Chief Medical Officer, is a family physician with 20 years of experience in health information technology and special interest in clinical innovation, user experience and clinical decision support. His background includes leadership roles in nearly all facets of the health IT domain – from small start-up companies to academic facilities, primary care medical groups and large health IT development organizations. Reider has served in directorial positions on boards of several health IT companies, including as chief medical informatics officer for EHR company Allscripts.