Obama Taps Health IT Proponent as First-Ever Chief Tech Officer

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In his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, President Obama named Virginia Technology Secretary Aneesh Chopra as the nation's first chief technology officer, the Washington Post reports.

Obama said that Chopra, who according to the Post had been considered for technology chief at HHS, "will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities -- from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure."

Chopra is a former managing director of the Advisory Board Company, a health care industry advisory and research firm in Washington, D.C. (Shear/Kumar, Washington Post, 4/19). The Advisory Board Company produces iHealthBeat for the California HealthCare Foundation.

According to the Wall Street Journal's "Digits," it is unclear how Chopra's job will differ from that of Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.

The White House job description says the CTO's responsibilities will "complement" the CIO's and will include developing "national strategies for using advanced technologies to transform our economy and our society," such as "reducing administrative costs and medical errors using health IT" (Schatz, "Digits," Wall Street Journal, 4/18).

Chopra has served as Virginia's technology secretary since 2006 (Washington Post, 4/19).

Health IT Proponent

According to ZDNet Healthcare, Chopra "is the best possible friend for health IT."

Prior to taking his job as Virginia's technology secretary, Chopra was actively involved in health IT adoption and electronic health records (Blankenhorn, ZDNet Healthcare, 4/19).

In an interview with NextGov.com, Chopra called health IT "a labor of love" and said that he spent his career in state government working to advance IT use to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.

Chopra will help oversee the $19 billion in federal stimulus package funding aimed at encouraging EHR adoption. Chopra said the biggest opposition to the EHR initiative will come from physicians.

 "Adoption is the major barrier," he said, adding, "My general view is the (stimulus package) will encourage physicians to move to the tipping point of saying, 'Maybe I will take the plunge.' But there is still risk the physician has to take" (Holmes, NextGov.com, 4/18).

Comments

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), who is chair of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement that Chopra's "leadership on the role of technology to transform our health care and educational systems directly aligns with President Obama's top priorities."

Michael Matthews, CEO of MedVirginia, said Chopra "has really done a lot to inspire people in the field as well as help to create a vision of how we can improve quality and efficiency in health care through the use of information technology" (Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/19).


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