Deputy National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Jon White is leaving the agency next month for a position at the Veterans Administration Salt Lake City Health Care System, where he’ll be Associate Chief of Staff of Research.
WHY IT MATTERS
White has been at ONC for five years. Steve Posnack, who has spent more than 14 years at the agency – he’s been there almost since its inception – will take over in White’s role on August 19. In his previous position, Posnack served as executive director, focused on the ONC Health IT Certification Program and the standards and technology investments of ONC Tech Lab.
During his tenure at ONC, White – who had previously served as director of the Division of Health IT at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – focused on major interoperability initiatives such as the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap and the information blocking rules that were recently put up for public comment.
White also served as acting head of the agency in the months between the tenures of National Coordinators Dr. Vindell Washington and Dr. Donald Rucker.
THE LARGER TREND
In an interview with Healthcare IT News not long after becoming deputy national coordinator, White clearly saw the near future as a time of “rubber hitting the road” – and was practical minded about the value of EHRs as simple tools that enable bigger things.
“Is the point to have a box on a desk? Or is the point to have people live longer, suffer less and have better value for their dollars?” said White. “The obvious answer is the latter. Meaningful use has definitely done its job as far as driving adoption. I think that has been a great success. I think that now the secret sauce is providers grappling with these tools and understanding them at a fundamental level.
“My background is as a family doctor,” he added. “When you do primary care you coordinate across a lot of different folks and coordinate across a lot of different problems. By and large, my stock in trade is information.”
As ONC interoperability efforts continue, Posnack and the rest of the agency will keep pushing forward on new approaches to data exchange, enabled by FHIR and open APIs and the info blocking rules he announced earlier this year.
ON THE RECORD
“Jon has provided exemplary executive leadership for all ONC programs and policies and championed ONC’s key priorities of advancing interoperability and reducing provider burden,” said Rucker in an email sent to ONC staff. “He helped lead mission-critical activities, including the publication of high priority, nationally impactful regulations, the publication of the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, a widely-publicized congressional report on information blocking, and ONC’s efforts in the precision medicine initiative.
“Steve has become a central part of ONC’s leadership team during his 14-year tenure, including nine years as part of ONC’s policy offices and five years leading ONC’s technology offices,” he added. “His unique experience and depth of knowledge will provide steady direction for our ONC team, continuity for our stakeholders, and vision for the work ahead of us. Steve will continue in his role as the Executive Director of the Office of Technology as we recruit for his replacement.”
Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.