Health IT Coordinator Latest IOM Member Tapped by Obama
March 27, 2009 -- Institute of Medicine member David Blumenthal has been selected to serve as national coordinator for health information technology in the Obama administration. In this position, he would lead the implementation of a national health care information technology system as called for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Blumenthal is the latest IOM member asked to serve in the administration, following the nomination of members to serve as FDA commissioner, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
National Coordinator for Health IT
Recognized as a leading researcher on health IT and quality improvements in care, David Blumenthal adopted an electronic health record in his own medical practice at Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners Health Care System in Boston. He has served on multiple IOM study committees including a panel that detailed the lack of adequate health professional training to care for the specific needs of the rapidly growing population of older patients, and a committee that identified shortcomings in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ability to monitor the safety of drugs once they've been approved for the market. Blumenthal was elected to IOM in 1998. In several reports, IOM and the National Research Council have assessed the pros and cons of electronic health records and health IT, including their potential for improving patient care and reducing risks and the barriers and challenges associated with their use.
Margaret A. Hamburg is a former New York City health commissioner and an assistant secretary of health and human services in the Clinton administration. Most recently she has served as a senior scientist for the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit organization working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Hamburg has actively engaged in many roles on behalf of the IOM. She was elected to membership in 1994, has been an IOM Council member, and has served on more than 30 committees and forums including as chair of the Board on Global Health and co-chair of the Forum on Microbial Threats.
If approved, Hamburg will be coming to an agency that has been under scrutiny for its performance in both drug and food safety. A 2007 IOM report The Future of Drug Safety: Promoting and Protecting the Health of the Public pointed out shortcomings that hamper FDA's ability to monitor and ensure the safety of prescription drugs after they are approved for use, and offered a set of recommendations to ensure that consideration of safety extends from before product approval through the entire time a product is on the market.
Before his confirmation to head OMB, Orszag served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2007 through 2008, where he often highlighted the rising cost of health care and its link to the nation's long-term economic prospects. He is expected to play a key advisory role during the administration's efforts to enact health care reform. Elected to IOM in 2008, Orszag served on IOM's Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine, which focuses on approaches to improve the evidence available for making clinical decisions.
Mary K. Wakefield will bring her rural health care expertise to the helm of HRSA, an agency that helps deliver care to individuals who are uninsured or underserved by the health care system. She previously served as director of the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota. A member of IOM since 2004, she chaired the committee that developed a report on the future of rural health care and co-chaired a study on the education of health professionals. She also served as a member of the Board on Health Care Services.