Kolodner retires from federal government

Former national health IT coordinator and longtime Department of Veterans Affairs informatics leader Robert Kolodner, M.D., is retiring from the federal government today.

Here’s an excerpt of a note he sent out today:

I am writing to let you know that today is my last day as a federal employee, after 31 gratifying years in public service.

What started out for me as a one year transition from residency into private practice took an unexpected turned into the opportunity of a lifetime. Notwithstanding the occasional challenges along the way, there is no other career path I would rather have pursued.

I am humbled by the superb quality of the people with whom I have had the good fortune to know and work with in the federal government. And I have been very impressed that we have a “deep bench” in federal service, with excellent people stepping up again and again to carry on, and even surpass, the work and the vision of the previous wave of leaders and key staff.

I am delighted to not only to have had the honor to serve our nation’s veterans for almost three decades, and be able to help them in their time of need after so many of them put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf, but also to have had the privilege of participating in VA-wide and nationwide activities to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient-centered health care. Hopefully, this time we will finally succeed in achieving sufficient health reform to trigger the transformations in health and care that we so desperately need in the U.S.

Over the years, I’ve done my best to reinforce and contribute to the understanding that the advances we have been pursuing in health IT have not been about technology, nor even primarily about health care, but instead have been – and are still – about improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Thank you for your friendship and collegial contributions over these past years. It has been a pleasure to know and work with all of you over the years, and I hope that our paths cross again in the not too distant future. I wish all the best to you in your noble pursuits – especially those of you who are doing so as federal employees.