Kolodner’s ‘career appointment’: interview

Physician informaticist Robert Kolodner took time out Thursday for a telephone interview to talk about his appointment by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt as the permanent head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS and his bidding adieu to a career serving the nation’s veterans.
Kolodner has been interim national coordinator since Sept. 20, 2006, following the resignation last spring of David Brailer, the first to hold the top job at ONCHIT.
It will mean saying goodbye “with fond memories,” he said, to a distinguished career at the Veterans Affairs Department, which was called the Veterans Administration when Kolodner started working there more than 28 years ago. Kolodner was chief health informatics officer for the Veterans Health Administration, the healthcare arm of the VA that operates nearly 1,300 care sites.
“I’m in this as a career appointment,” he said. “This is a total transfer, moving from one department to another. Before I was on detail (from the VA). Now I will be a full HHS employee.”
Kolodner, 58, a psychiatrist, took to computers early when he came to the VA in 1977 and was in on the ground floor of the development of what would become a nationally interoperable clinical computer system, now called the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA.
{Quote from Kolodner, “We’re here to serve the individual and we’re here to maintain their health. It’s this whole thing of helping individuals manage their health by having the necessary resources and information and tools to do that management. All of this has to occur in a private, secure and confidential environment … so their information is not used against them.” His predecessor Dr. Brailer never seemed interested in the rampant theft and misuse of the nation’s identifiable medical records by private corporations and employers. We will have to wait and see if Koldoner takes actions that will ensure that health information is not used against consumers and patients. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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