CMS' first chief health informatics officer leaves after 4 months

doctor using tablet
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hired its first chief healthcare informatics officer in March to lead the agency's clinical, technical and interoperability strategy. (Khunatorn/GettyImages)

Mark Roche, M.D., is leaving his role as the first chief health informatics officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) after less than four months on the job.

The news was first reported by Politico on Friday. 

CMS appointed Roche to the position back in March to lead the agency's clinical, technical and interoperability strategy. As of press time, CMS media representatives did not confirm whether the agency will look to fill the position.

RELATED: CMS taps physician-informaticist Mark Roche as first CHIO

Roche is a former Northwestern University adjunct professor and a former physician adviser to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

His departure leaves vacant a position that is integral to formulating and implementing the clinical and technical aspects of CMS’ interoperability strategy and MyHealthEData initiative, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma's description of the position in an email to CMS staff four months ago.

The vacancy in the top informatics role also comes as CMS and ONC parse thousands of comments from industry stakeholders on recent interoperability and information-blocking rules and gear up to potentially finalize those rules.

Roche also will be stepping down from his role as CMS' federal representative to the Health IT Advisory Committee, which advises the federal government on health IT policy, according to Politico.

CMS began searching for its first CHIO last year. In a blog post in July 2018, Verma said the CHIO will "drive health IT and data sharing to enhance healthcare delivery, improve health outcomes, drive down costs, and empower patients." Through this new function, CMS will effectively engage stakeholders from all parts of the healthcare market, including federal partners and industry leaders, Verma wrote. 

RELATED: AHIP, other industry groups call for phased approach to CMS interoperability rule

Verma also described the role as helping to drive forward health IT initiatives CMS launched last year, including the Medicare Blue Button 2.0 program and an overhaul of the CMS EHR Incentive Programs to focus on interoperability.

CMS' data-driven strategy was another driver for creating the CHIO position, Verma said.

Roche came to the role as an experienced physician informaticist with more than 16 years of experience working in government, academic and industry sectors on initiatives such as national eHealth strategy, data modeling and semantic interoperability.