As funding dries up, ONC reorganizes, consolidates offices

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, in an internal memo sent to ONC staffers and emailed to FierceHealthIT late Friday, announced a slew of organizational changes at the agency. The changes also are set to appear in the Federal Register on June 3.

DeSalvo said the changes will enable ONC to better meet the needs of the future, saying that the realignment will improve effectiveness by "combining similar functions, elevating critical priority functions and providing a flatter and more accountable reporting structure."

"The HITECH Act's health IT infrastructure and program investments are ending and it is our responsibility to take this opportunity to reshape our agency to be as efficient and effective as possible, never losing sight of our primary accountability--the people of America," DeSalvo said.

DeSalvo and new Deputy National Coordinator Jacob Reider now will oversee 10 offices instead of 17, including:

  • Office of Clinical Quality and Safety, headed by Judy Murphy
  • Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis, headed by Seth Pazinski
  • Office of Standards and Technology, headed by Steve Posnack
  • Office of Programs, headed by Kim Lynch
  • Office of Public Affairs and Communications, headed by Nora Super
  • Office of the Chief Operating Officer, headed by Lisa Lewis
  • Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, headed by Joy Pritts
  • Office of Policy, headed by Jodi Daniel
  • Office of Care Transformation, headed by Kelly Cronin
  • Office of the Chief Scientist to be headed by Doug Fridsma

Reider was named acting deputy coordinator in March and served as acting national coordinator after previous national coordinator Farzad Mostashari stepped down last fall.

"You and your predecessors have built a strong foundation here at ONC and for health IT across the nation," DeSalvo said. "Now it is time to begin the next chapter to promote interoperable health IT solutions that support the ultimate goal of better health for all."

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka, who currently serves as co-chair of ONC's Health IT Standards Committee, applauded the effort to downsize in an email to FierceHealthIT.

"I often use the term "parsimony" to refer to the smallest number of moving parts," Halamka said. "Reducing ONC from 17 areas to 10 seems like parsimony to me.

In April, DeSalvo discussed forthcoming efforts to transition ONC's health IT policy and standards committees into less siloed entities. 

To learn more:
- here's the notice (.pdf)