Slideshow 20 People to Watch in Healthcare IT in 2016

  • December 16 2015, 6:52pm EST

20 People to Watch in Healthcare IT in 2016

After much progress and turmoil in the healthcare industry this past year, health information technology is poised to play a big role as reforms take hold and IT becomes a significant tool to support changes in care delivery and reimbursement. Here are some of the leaders expected to make large contributions to the discussion on HIT, and provide guidance on where the industry needs to go. (Photo: Fotolia)

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

Sen. Alexander is Chair of the Senate Health, Education Labor & Pensions Committee, which exerts jurisdiction over healthcare. In the past year, Alexander conducted a number of hearings on the nation’s health IT policies. There was plenty of criticism of the meaningful use program and a lot of bluster, but like counterparts in the House, little was accomplished through legislation. But under strong pressure from lawmakers and the American Medical Association, federal officials modified the meaningful use program several times and still didn’t make anyone happy. Alexander and his committee might be poised to take definitive action in 2016.

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Francis Collins, MD

Director, National Institutes of Health

Under Collins’ leadership, the NIH is embarking on new initiatives, with one of the largest being development of the Precision Medicine Initiative. Part of that program, proposed by President Obama earlier this year, will be to build the infrastructure for the historic, first-of-its-kind national cohort of 1 million American volunteers. That effort, slated to begin in 2016, will heavily leverage EHRs and mobile platforms for the health data contributed by the volunteers.

Karen DeSalvo, MD

National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

As DeSalvo continues to drive the agenda for ONC, she also will bring health IT to prominence as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Health at HHS. Her plate is full at ONC – she’s wanting to implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information. A wild card for DeSalvo and ONC is any changes that might be brought after 2016 as a result of the presidential election.

Doug Fridsma

President and CEO, American Medical Informatics Association

AMIA is raising its profile as healthcare becomes more dependent on data and analyzing that information to find ways improve care and reduce costs. AMIA also is looking to play prominently in genomics and increasing providers’ ability to provide actionable research that can influence care. Fridsma has come from the public sector to provide visionary leadership to AMIA.

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Lisa Gallagher

Vice President of Technology Solutions, HIMSS

The influential Health IT Standards advisory committee will be led by long-time privacy/security and health information exchange veterans in 2016. Gallagher, vice president of technology solutions at HIMSS, has previously served on committee workgroups. She’ll work with Arien Malec, profiled later in this feature. Might their strong ties to the vendor community expand its influence on policy making?

Kathy Hudson

Deputy Director for Science, Outreach and Policy at the National Institutes of Health

Hudson leads the science policy, legislation, communications and outreach efforts of the NIH and serves as a senior advisor to the NIH Director. She is responsible for creating major new strategic and scientific initiatives for NIH and is currently leading the planning and creation of the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative. She’s crafting many of the major tenets of the program, including ensuring the security of the information it contains and the platform to distribute information to researchers.

Stanley Huff, MD

Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Intermountain Healthcare

A leading voice on interoperability is that of Huff, Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Intermountain Healthcare and a Professor in Biomedical lnformatics at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City. As CMIO at Intermountain, he has responsibility for the architecture and functions of all clinical information systems. He’s served in several organizations and on federal panels on HIT.

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Chuck Jaffe, MD

CEO of Health Level Seven

Jaffe’s organization is in a very visible position, as it works to advance interoperability in healthcare through the use of FHIR. Expectations are high that HL7 will continue development on the standard to enable the free flow of healthcare information.

Liz Johnson

Chief Information Officer at Tenet, Acute Care Hospitals and Applied Clinical Informatics

Johnson was tapped to lead one of the biggest initiatives in Tenet’s history: a $620 million project to implement electronic health records in 49 Tenet hospitals over a four-year period. Now, she’s helping standardize EHRs at eight hospitals Tenet has acquired through a recent acquisition of Vanguard Health. Johnson in 2016 is taking the reins as chair of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, which has a powerful voice in offering the industry’s view of federal policy on HIT initiatives.

Stephen Lieber

President and CEO, HIMSS

If there is a top power player in health IT, it is Stephen Lieber. HIMSS is the face of health IT, it often sets the agenda, and it has tentacles everywhere. HIMSS brings together the industry with its annual conference where stakeholders are educated, find new friends, kick the tires on new products and services, and make deals. And, policymakers listen to HIMSS.

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Arien Malec

Vice President, Data Platform Solutions, McKesson RelayHealth

The influential Health IT Standards advisory committee will face major challenges in 2016, looking to figure out ways to manage rising demand for data exchange in the face of cyber threats. It will be co-led by Malec, grounded in exchange issues as vice president of data platform solutions for McKesson RelayHealth.

Deven McGraw

Deputy Director for Health Information Privacy, HHS Office for Civil Rights

Through mid-December, the HHS Office for Civil Rights has sanctioned six healthcare organizations during 2015 for serious violations of the HIPAA privacy/security rules, imposing large fines and mandated corrective action plans. Four of the sanctions—with considerably larger fines—came after McGraw became deputy director for health information privacy in late June. With hacking now far more prevalent than five years ago, 2016 could be a busy year on the sanctions front. McGraw and her agency also will be active in developing privacy requirements for the Precision Medicine Initiative.

Craig Richardville

Chief Information Officer, Carolinas HealthCare System

Chief information officers who win the CIO of the Year Award find themselves as members of an elite club and with increased influence. The health IT advancements that 2015 CIO of the Year Richardville and his team have made at Carolinas Healthcare System are impressive. With a focus on patient engagement, nine hospitals and 254 ambulatory sites are at Stage 7—the highest level—of the HIMSS Analytics electronic health records adoption scale. Three hundred ICU beds are being remotely monitored and the delivery system also operates a health information exchange, among other initiatives.

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Andy Slavitt

Acting Administrator, CMS

If there is big change to be made in meaningful use during 2016, CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt likely will be the one to make it. Participation in the program is waning. In December, speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, Slavitt may have tipped his hand. With value-based reimbursement on the way, he said, “I’m more interested in incentives that reward physicians for having coordinated care than I am in incentives that reward people for using technology. I don’t think we should be in the mode of rewarding people for the means but rewarding them for the outcomes that they want to achieve.”

Steven Stack, MD

President, AMA

Stack, an emergency physician practicing in Lexington, Ky., is AMA’s youngest president in the past 160 years. Stack is nationally recognized for his expertise in health information technology, serving as chair of the AMA's Health Information Technology Advisory Group from 2007 to 2013. He has also served on multiple federal advisory groups for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and as Secretary for eHealth Initiative, an industry collaborative organization. In the last year, the AMA has become more of a voice in HIT topics under his leadership.

Walter Suarez

Executive Director, Health IT Strategy and Policy, Kaiser Permanente

Suarez last year was appointed by HHS Secretary Burwell as the new chairman of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, an influential policy group that serves as the leading edge for many HIT directions.

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Paul Tang, MD

Vice President and CMIO, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

In addition to Tang’s day job with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, he carries a heavy load in various federal panels, including chair of the Advanced Health Models and Meaningful Use committee, vice chair of the Health IT Policy Committee, member of the Health IT Strategy and Innovation committee, and chair of the Clinical, Technical, Organizational and Financial Barriers to Interoperability task force. His many contributions to the industry will continue to be vital in 2016.

Robert Tennant

Director, Health Information Technology Policy, Medical Group Management Association

Tennant is a widely respected voice within healthcare IT, particularly on physician engagement and use of healthcare IT. At MGMA, he focuses on federal legislative and regulatory health information technology issues, including HIPAA, electronic health records, electronic prescribing and ICD-10. He participates in numerous industry efforts and panels.

William Tierney, MD

Chair of Population Health, Dell Medical School, University of Texas at Austin

Tierney will be looking to meld his previous experience in medical informatics into his new position at The University of Texas in Austin. Tierney says he expects the Dell Medical School’s Department of Population Health to partner with strong existing community and academic programs to create new strategies and programs to improve overall health in the region. He will be able to draw on his extensive experience in collaboration from his previous role as president and CEO at Regenstrief Institute. Lessons learned in Texas could provide guidance on population health across the country.

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Micky Tripathi

President and CEO, Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative

Tripathi is well-known for playing a leadership role in working to achieve interoperability within the healthcare industry. His activities range from policy guidance at the federal level, to collaborative strategic planning at the state and community levels, to implementation of health IT systems at the frontline of healthcare delivery. As manager for the Argonaut Project, Tripathi will help to accelerate/mature HL7’s FHIR in 2016 as a standard to address health IT interoperability challenges and facilitate FHIR-based health apps that focus on putting the person and the care experience front and center.