The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will officially lose its "entrepreneur-in-chief" when chief technology officer Todd Park leaves to replace former U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra at the end of this week, the White House announced last week.
Since joining HHS in August 2009, Park has pushed for the liberation of healthcare data. He started the Health Data Initiative, which has helped to make HHS data more easily attainable by the public, and in creating HealthCare.gov, Park helped give patients online access to payer information, notes a FierceGovernmentIT article.
In October 2010, FierceGovernment IT reports, Park called for more HHS data to be released in "beta mode" to encourage more feedback for maturation while speaking at an executive leadership conference in Williamsburg, Va. "It would make sense to think about the release of data sets the way you think about the release of software," Park said. "Then you can start an open dialog about the data set that moves it from beta, to beyond beta, like you would with software."
In February 2011, HHS, under Park's watch, launched its Health Indicators Warehouse, which comprises "health indicators from a wide array of HHS data sources." In addition, he started the HHSinnovates awards program for innovators within the government agency.
Alex Howard, of O'Reilly Media, called the news "some of the best personnel news to come out of Washington ... under President Obama," especially given Park's work ethic. "Now, [Park] will have the opportunity to try to improve how the entire federal government works through technology," Howard wrote. "It's a daunting challenge, but one that he may have been born to take on."
Last fall, Park told FierceHealthIT in an exclusive interview that he thought it was important to continue to identify innovators in both the private and public sectors to help health IT reach its true potential. "[Government's] role is really to be a catalyst, helping to create a market environment that unlocks the power of private sector innovation to make magic happen," he said.
Prior to joining the government in 2009, Park was a co-founder of athenahealth in 1997 with Jonathan Bush.