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Jon White to serve as acting national coordinator for HIT

With the resignation of Vindell Washington, MD, as national coordinator for health IT, leadership of ONC will pass on an interim basis to Deputy National Coordinator Jon White, MD, until the incoming Trump administration makes their appointment to fill the position.

White will serve as acting national coordinator, according to Washington, who made the announcement at Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Health IT Policy and Standards committees.

“I am very confident in both the work of ONC moving forward and the federal servants that will remain as we do our transition,” said Washington.

Also See: Who will take the lead at ONC in 2017?

In addition to White, he announced that Lisa Lewis will serve as deputy national coordinator and that Steve Posnack, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Technology, would remain in his position.

“I have supreme confidence in their stewardship and what will follow,” added Washington.

The outgoing national coordinator specifically referenced the interoperability and information blocking provisions contained in the 21st Century Cures Act that was recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. At its core, he said the legislation—which received “unprecedented” bipartisan support—is intended to “try to protect the flow of information.”

Also See: Outgoing National Coordinator says interoperability is agency’s top HIT achievement

Washington also pointed out that Section 4003 of the Cures Act calls for an “orderly and timely transition” in creating a new Health IT Advisory Committee, which will be established and “shall serve to unify the roles of, and replace, the HIT Policy Committee and the HIT Standards Committee.”

Specifically, the new HIT Advisory Committee is to make interoperability a priority and to recommend to the national coordinator “standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria, relating to the implementation of a health information technology infrastructure, nationally and locally, that advances the electronic access, exchange and use of health information.”

“That is firm footing for ONC to move forward on,” concluded Washington, whose last day on the job is January 20.

Paul Tang, MD, co-chair of the Health IT Policy Committee, thanked Washington for his public service and leadership, particularly in the area of interoperability. “Thank you for leading the charge on that,” Tang said. “Clearly, it made its way into the 21st Century Cures Act, so it will be continued by statute.”

In an exit interview this week with Health Data Management, Washington did not provide details on his future plans after leaving ONC later this month, noting that, “I’m not completely certain what I’ll be doing when I leave this role.”

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