A top federal health IT official has abruptly resigned from her post at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) where she was overseeing the agency's EHR modernization efforts.
Genevieve Morris, who served as the principal deputy national coordinator for health IT at ONC, announced her resignation on Twitter Friday following media reports that she had stepped down from her position leading the VA's Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization as the acting chief health information officer. She was appointed to the VA position on July 12.
Thread: Sharing a copy of the resignation letter (from both VA and ONC) I submitted this morning to Secretaries Azar and Wilkie, so folks have more than half of one sentence. As to future plans, taking a long nap is in my near future. :)— Genevieve Morris (@HITpolicywonk) August 24, 2018
"Over the last few weeks, it has become clear to me that VA’s leadership intends to take the EHR modernization effort in a different direction than we were headed, and since my service as CHIO was always intended to be an interim solution, I am offering my resignation to the administration effective immediately," she wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. "I greatly appreciate the many team members of the VA who are working tirelessly for our veterans and who have supported the efforts we have undertaken over the last few months. Thank you for the opportunity to serve."
Morris did not specifically address why she is leaving her position at ONC.
An ONC spokesperson declined to comment and referred requests to HHS. HHS did not return multiple requests for comment.
Morris' resignation leaves a significant hole in both organizations where she played a critical role in ongoing efforts to improve healthcare interoperability.
At the VA, she had just begun work implementing the agency's 10-year, $10 billion contract with Cerner to overhaul the health system's EHR. Her departure comes amid a slew of IT executives leaving the agency, including Acting CIO Scott Blackburn in April.
In a statement sent to FierceHealthcare, the VA said John Windom will step into the role of acting chief health information officer for VA’s OEHRM. Windom previously helped integrate Cerner's EHR system at the Department of Defense.
"We appreciate Genevieve Morris’ efforts in helping VA’s team as the department finalized the electronic health-care record system contract with Cerner in May, and in serving since July as Chief Health Information Officer (CHIO) for the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM)," Wilkie said in a statement. "We thank her for her service and wish her the best in her future endeavors."
Morris had served just six weeks in her position at the VA.
At ONC, Morris led the agency's work with the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA). ONC released a draft version of the agreement, mandated under the 21st Century Cures Act, in January and planned to finalize it by the end of the year.