Rucker takes helm at ONC as national coordinator for health IT

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Former Siemens chief medical officer Donald Rucker, MD, has taken the helm at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, according to media reports.

A directory for the Department of Health and Human Services that lists employees now includes contact information for Rucker, who most recently was chief medical officer at Premise Health, a worksite health and patient engagement company. He also served at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center as chief operating officer of the IDEA Studio and clinical professor of emergency medicine and biomedical informatics.

There has been no formal announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services or the White House on the Rucker appointment, and agency officials were not available for comment. In addition, a spokesman for the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT declined to comment on news reports about the Rucker appointment, referring a query from Health Data Management to HHS.

A spokesperson for HHS said the agency is “not commenting on personnel at this time.”

On Twitter this afternoon, former National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, tweeted: Congratulations @donrucker! Welcome to the family! @ONC_HealthIT.

“He has participated in our Health IT Policy work during my tenure, but I haven’t worked directly with him,” DeSalvo told Health Data Management. “His background certainly seems to make him well qualified, and I am excited that the ONC team will have a leader so early in the Administration so they can press on with their important work.”

John Glaser, currently senior vice president for population health at Cerner, was CEO at Siemens Health Services during Rucker's career there, and lauded his choice for the ONC role. "Don has a diverse and extensive career in healthcare information technology," Glaser says. "He has deep knowledge of the care practice, technology and policy challenges we face as we advance the ability of the technology to improve health and healthcare. He's a great choice."

Rucker also has practiced emergency medicine at Kaiser in California; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he was the first full-time emergency department attending physician; and at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Presbyterian and Pennsylvania Hospitals.

In addition to his medical experience, Rucker brings to the National Coordinator position a strong technology background. He came to OSU from Siemens Healthcare USA, where he served as chief medical officer for 13 years and led the team that designed the computerized physician order entry workflow that was installed at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and which was honored in 2003 with the HIMSS Nicholas Davies Award for the best hospital computer system in the US.

At practice management and clinical systems services vendor Datamedic, Rucker is credited with co-developing one of the first Microsoft Windows-based electronic health record systems. Recently, he served terms on the board of commissioners of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology.

Rucker is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He has board certifications in emergency medicine and internal medicine. Rucker also holds a master degree in medical computer science and an MBA, both from Stanford University.

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