Dr. David Blumenthal, the nations newly appointed “Health IT Czar” actually takes on the role of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on Monday, April 20, 2009.
Kelly Cronin, director of the Office of Programs and Coordination for the Office of National Coordination for Health Information Technology (ONC), said Blumenthal should expect a very heavy first day on the job. His first and foremost task at ONC? “Getting his arms around how to get the money [in the stimulus package] out,” she said.
As National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Blumenthal will be responsible for dolling out nearly 2 Billion dollars in discretionary funds for EHR implementation and other Health IT initiatives. The money is intended to be used in state grants to help them promote and incentivize creation of statewide health IT programs. In addition, some funds are also expected to be set aside to provide training for transitioning from paper to EHRs. The money allocated to the ONC via the stimulus is also earmarked to establish a national research center to provide information and technical support to healthcare providers as they go paperless and transition to EHR and other Health IT solutions.
Cronin said she is quite excited about the Blumenthal appointment and is glad that “we finally do have significant resources to take the advancement of Healthcare IT to the next level.”
Blumenthal will be giving up a position with Partners Healthcare, where he was still a practicing physician, and a professorship at the Harvard Medical School to take up the reins at ONC. Blumenthal was selected by the Obama administration back on March 20, 2009 to replace then ONC Chief Dr. Robert Kolodner, who had served since 2007.
Blumenthal has been mum and has declined commenting on any of his plans for ONC until he in fact takes command – the actual date of which was not known until now.