I just ran into Dr. Robert Kolodner at the HIMSS conference. As you know, Kolodner was the second national coordinator for health IT, serving from 2006 to 2009. While he doesn’t have any insight on who might be the next head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology—or if he does, he’s not sharing—he did put the decision into perspective.
The first coordinator, Dr. David Brailer, was kind of the entrepreneur, starting up the office with little money and no statutory authority, just what President George W. Bush delegated to him in an executive order. Kolodner was the one who “made it real” in terms of hiring permanent staff and setting up programs to assure the long-term viability of the office. The current coordinator, Dr. David Blumenthal, who will leave in April, is the policy guy, leader of efforts to implement the health IT provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The question Kolodner has for the Obama administration is: What qualities should the next coordinator have? Do we need another policy specialist or a hands-on implementation leader?