Former HHS privacy head Deven McGraw joins Silicon Valley medical record startup

After leaving her post as the top healthcare privacy official at the Department of Health and Human Services in October, Deven McGraw has joined a new Silicon Valley startup focused on helping patients access their health information.

McGraw, who served for more than two years as the deputy director for health information privacy at the Office for Civil Rights, will be the chief regulatory officer at Ciitizen, a venture company created by the former head of Apple’s health team, Anil Sethi.

RELATED: Health privacy expert Deven McGraw leaves HHS for the private sector

McGraw announced that she had joined Ciitizen on Twitter following a CNBC report about the new company. She later confirmed her position in an email to FierceHealthcare.

“We're a very small start-up right now, so I feel like I am wearing many hats—helping to get our office set up and what I'll call external relations,” she said. “[I’m] reaching out to patient groups and provider organizations to let them know what we're planning and get their feedback.”

Ciitizen will focus specifically on getting patients with serious illnesses access to their medical information in a useful format “wherever it resides,” McGraw said. The company also wants to tackle the challenges of interoperability by allowing users to share data with their healthcare providers and donate their information to medical research.

“This is not necessarily a new concept, but I am particularly drawn to the idea of creating a tool that is specifically designed to help very sick patients and is tailored to their needs,” she said.

As CNBC reported on Thursday, Sethi left Apple’s health team to form Ciitizen after his sister died of cancer in September. Sethi promised her he would dedicate his work to improving care for cancer patients.

McGraw, who also served as the acting chief privacy officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, said she enjoyed her time at both federal agencies, but felt the urge to transition her career in a direction where she could make a difference for individuals.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to build on the work that I had been able to do at OCR and ONC with respect to promoting patient access and take it to the next level of actually helping to create a tool that would facilitate that,” she said.