Cerner names Afsar its first chief health officer

Cerner has named Nasim Afsar, M.D., as its first-ever chief health officer, the health IT company announced Tuesday.

Leading Cerner’s clinician community of over 1,000 healthcare professionals in product development and patient care, Afsar will assume the role in January 2022.

She will also spearhead Cerner’s businesses including patient safety, regulatory, health policy, government affairs and continuous improvement, the company said.

Previously, Afsar served as chief operating officer at UCI Health, as well as president and board member of the Society of Hospital Medicine and in multiple executive roles at UCLA Health.

“I have dedicated my career to driving positive large-scale impact with the goal of delivering high-quality care and health outcomes for our patients and communities. I am excited to continue this work at Cerner,” said Afsar in a statement. “We have not realized the full potential of healthcare technologies in supporting health, as well as providing early warning signs for chronic conditions and acute illnesses. I look forward to joining the talented team of leaders at Cerner to enhance our ability to care for patients and free our caregivers to focus on what matters most: the patient in front of them.”

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Afsar is the first leadership hire under new CEO and president David Feinberg, M.D.

Also a UCLA Health alum and former Google Health vice president, Feinberg stepped into the role in October.

“I am thrilled that Nasim is joining our team to help us realize the true promise of what the EHR can bring. Technology must work better for caregivers and patients,” said Feinberg in a statement. “As an industry, we need to decrease the cost of care, improve quality and community health, give more time back to caregivers to spend at the bedside—and Cerner intends to be a key player in driving these efforts. I look forward to Nasim’s guidance and leadership.”

Feinberg said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call that Cerner plans to center its attention moving forward on improving its electronic health record system to help clinicians avoid errors in patient care.

Afsar has extensive experience in implementing healthcare technologies to improve care delivery, the company said.

Cerner also planned a round of layoffs in November, Feinberg confirmed during the Oct. 29 call. According to the Kansas City Star, he said in an email to staff that approximately 150 positions would be eliminated—which he told analysts was necessary to “right the ship.”