Health IT Proponent Chopra Steps Down as Country's First CTO

On Friday, Obama administration officials announced that Aneesh Chopra has stepped down from his post as the country's first chief technology officer, Politico reports (Quinn, Politico, 1/27).

In a statement, President Obama thanked Chopra for his service. He said, "Aneesh found countless ways to engage the American people using technology, from electronic health records for veterans, to expanding access to broadband for rural communities, to modernizing government records" (Lee, Modern Healthcare, 1/27). The president added that Chopra's "legacy of leadership and innovation will benefit Americans for years to come" (Sasso, "Hillicon Valley," The Hill, 1/27).

John Holdren -- assistant to the president for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy -- also offered a statement on Chopra's departure. He noted that Chopra "led the implementation of the President's open government strategy focused on unlocking the innovative potential of the federal government to solve problems and seed the jobs and industries of the future" (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy release, 1/27).

The White House did not offer information about Chopra's reasons for stepping down or his future plans (Smith, "Tech Daily Dose," National Journal, 1/27). The administration also did not provide information on plans for replacing Chopra.

Chopra as CTO

During his tenure as CTO, Chopra advocated for greater use of technology in health care and improving government transparency by making more data available online ("Hillicon Valley," The Hill, 1/27).

Chopra also helped oversee the $19 billion in federal stimulus package funding aimed at encouraging EHR adoption. Under the stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Speaking about the stimulus package, Chopra said he thought the incentive payments "will encourage physicians to move to the tipping point of saying, 'Maybe I will take the plunge'" toward EHR adoption.

Previous Involvement With Health IT

Prior to taking on the CTO role in 2009, Chopra served as Virginia's technology secretary under former Gov. Tim Kaine (D).

In a 2009 interview with NextGov, 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.

Before joining the Kaine administration, Chopra was managing director at the Advisory Board Company, a health care research firm (iHealthBeat, 4/20/09). The Advisory Board Company produces iHealthBeat for the California HealthCare Foundation.

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