Change at Health and Human Services Department Wont Stop Health IT

By M.L. Baker  |  Posted 2004-12-04
The resignation of Tommy Thompson, head of the Department of Health and Human Services will probably have little effect on health IT, say industry insiders.

In an interview conducted while Thompsons departure was still rumor, David Brailer, the national health IT coordinator, said health IT had a life of its own, implying that its momentum would not be checked by a leadership change in the Cabinet.

"I am here under the order of President Bush; this is a presidential initiative," he told

Ann Berkey, VP of public affairs at McKesson Corp, said that while Thompson was an advocate of health IT, his departure would not slow efforts at ONCHIT (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology). "I dont think it will have much of an impact at all. David has a lot of support in the administration."

McKesson is one of the largest suppliers of health information technologies to hospitals, pharmacies, health care payers, and physician practices.

Click here to read more about David Brailers assessment of the private sectors role in health IT.

Mark McClellan, currently head of CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), is widely speculated to replace Thompson. Berkey said hed likely do a great job if appointed. "Hes a strong advocate for health IT; he knows David well, and hell be very supportive," she said. During his tenure at CMS, McClellan moved toward policies to encourage eprescribing.

Previously, as head of the Food and Drug Administration, he encouraged the use of information technology to make drug development more efficient.

Berkey downplayed the importance of Congresss denial of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technologys request for $50 million in a spending bill passed last month. She noted that Brailers office was only created in May and that the appropriations process is long and complex. "It will get resolved," she said.

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