ross d. martin

A semi-regular diary of Dr. Martin's musings. Read. Discuss. Act.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006
Thunderous News from the ONC - Brailer Resigns

It's not like the president was assasinated or anything, but the news that just popped into my inbox hit me pretty hard. Dr. David Brailer, the first National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, announced today that he was stepping down. The news was first reported (as far as I can tell) by the Financial Times of London - British spelling of programme and co-ordinate and all.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (the ONC now, formerly ONCHIT with all the regrettable pronunciation varieties) has been underfunded and understaffed since its inception through executive order two years ago. But even in its anemic state, it proved a galvanizing force - a precise point of focus - for many of us around the country who shared Dr. Brailer's vision for an interoperable healtcare system that actually works because relevant information flows where and when it is needed.

That vision hasn't died today, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that this won't be a setback for those of us who want to make the dream a reality for the benefit of all. The lack of an articulate, politically savvy and truly brilliant shepherd of the Strategic Framework for HIT - even for just a short time - will mean that the tenuous alliances and strange bedfellowships that became a hallmark of the activities surrounding the ONC will be strained and many may break. Those who doubted or hesitated to commit will be even more wary in the next round. As hard as it has been to solve the unsolvable, it will be harder still.

There is no single person who has the power to transform healthcare. It takes more than a village. It takes all of us playing a part in a national - even global - symphony orchestra. But it sure will be hard to do it without David Brailer holding the conductor's baton.


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