The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has named Maryland's chief innovation officer, Bryan Sivak, as its HHS chief technology officer.
Sivak assumes his new role following the appointment of Todd Park as the federal U.S. chief technology officer by President Obama on March 9. Park succeeded Aneesh Chopra, who is now a senior advisor on health care technology strategy at The Advisory Board Company, a consulting firm.
HHS announced Sivak's appointment on Twitter on June 14. Sivak tweeted about his new post, saying he was "super excited to continue the amazing work started by [Park]."
Sivak previously served as former Maryland chief innovation officer. In that role Sivak helped create the state's health information exchanges to connect various electronic health record (EHR) platforms.
He also worked on issues such as public safety, broadband access and getting citizens involved with social media, according to Government Health IT.
In addition, Sivak helped set up a health insurance exchange (HIXs) to allow citizens to shop for health plans.
The federal government calls for all states to set up HIXs under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), on which the Supreme Court is about to issue a ruling regarding its constitutionality. "Bryan has done great work in the state of Maryland," Takirra Winfield, press secretary for Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, told eWEEK in an email. "He has left us with a blueprint for innovation by spearheading open government projects, and working on initiatives like the health exchange."
Sivak's background also includes a role as CTO for Washington, D.C., and co-founder of InQuira, a knowledge management software vendor now owned by Oracle.
"We are sure Bryan will make a significant impact at the Department of Health and Human Services," Winfield added.
"Working in partnership with Chief Technology Officer of the United States Todd Park, Bryan will ensure that the department's innovation initiatives continue to move ahead at full speed," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement, according to Government Health IT. "We will benefit tremendously from his creativity, experience and fresh ideas as we continue our work to harness the power of data and technology to improve the health of the nation."
As Washington, D.C.'s CTO, Sivak implemented an accountability portal called TrackDC, which allows citizens to rate the performance of the district government agencies and learn about budget and spending.
The appointment of Sivak was a strong choice, according to Shahid Shah, CEO of IT consulting firm Netspective Communications and author of the Healthcare IT Guy blog.
"Bryan is one of those individuals who believes innovations are far more effective when they end up in practical solutions rather than stuck in the ideation phase," Shah told eWEEK in an email. "He's done a great job moving entrepreneurs, commercial firms and the government to work together effectively and solve real problems in the state of Maryland. HHS' problems and opportunities for solutions are bigger, and I think he'll do a fine job there."
eWEEK caught up with Park, Sivak's predecessor, at an Aetna event on March 5 to relaunch the insurance carrier's iTriage app. As CTO in HHS, Park not only helped implement the HHS meaningful-use guidelines on EHRs but also the Health Data Initiative, which makes data accessible by third-party apps such as iTriage.
"[Sivak] has Todd Park's huge shoes to fill, but I think he can do it because he has a similar approach and vision," said Shah.