Joy Pritts to step down as ONC chief privacy officer

Joy Pritts, who served as the first chief privacy officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare IT, will step down from her position next month.

National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo announced today in a memo to staff obtained by FierceHealthIT that Pritts will leave ONC on July 12. Pritts has held the position since February 2010.

DeSalvo thanked Pritts for her efforts, saying that because of her work "privacy and security have become engrained in the ONC culture and are increasingly being recognized as crucial elements in health IT."

DeSalvo praised Pritts for seeing her through her first five months as National Coordinator and called Pritts an "invaluable advisor."

Prior to joining the ONC, Pritts was on the faculty at Georgetown University where she served as both a senior scholar with the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and a research associate professor with the Health Policy Institute.

Pritts' departure comes in the wake of big changes at ONC. Late last month, the agency revealed plans to reorganize, cutting the number of offices within the agency from 17 to 10; Pritts' Office of the Chief Privacy Officer was maintained.

Of late, Pritts had been working with ONC's privacy and security Tiger Team on data segmentation recommendations for the electronic sharing of behavioral health information. At the most recent Health IT Policy Committee meeting this week, the recommendations--which urged the creation of a four-level "glide path" that would include additional pilots and guidance, and suggested that voluntary EHR certification requirements for behavioral health be established for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use--were delivered and approved.

In an April interview with HealthcareInfoSecurity, Pritts said that despite some federal privacy and security wins, she was disappointed in the healthcare industry's knowledge of security measures outlined in the Healthcare Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. She added that going forward, part of ONC's privacy and security focus will center on being "proactive" when it comes to cyber hacking.

To learn more:
- here's the memo