Seven new healthcare leaders from diverse industry backgrounds will be joining the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee, the federal group working to implement a health IT infrastructure that advances the electronic access, exchange and use of health information in the U.S. healthcare system.
WHY IT MATTERS
Established by the 21st Century Cures Act, HITAC and its subcommittees provide recommendations to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on policies, standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria.
The new members, appointed by the Government Accountability Office, have served healthcare in both public- and private-sector capacities at organizations across the United States.
Dr. Kikelomo Belizaire, the chief medical officer at Pegasystems, is also a practicing hospitalist in the Charlotte, North Carolina, region. She previously served as the medical director of Anthem’s commercial unit and as a physician treating high-acuity patients in several hospital systems in North and South Carolina, and as a healthcare consultant.
Dr. Shila Blend is the health information technology director of the North Dakota Health Information Network, a statewide HIE. She also serves as a subject-matter expert with the Rural Emergency Medical Services Counts project, which is working to develop quality measures for emergency medical services in rural areas. She previously served the state in a number of preparedness and coordination roles, including as the deputy chief of staff for COVID-19 response.
Dr. Hannah Galvin is the chief medical information officer of Cambridge Health Alliance, an academic public safety net health system, where she leads the division of clinical informatics and practices as a pediatrician. She is the co-chair of the board of directors of Shift, an independent task force focused on enabling patients to manage how their health data is shared to promote equitable interoperability. Previously, Galvin was the medical director of informatics at Lahey Health and cared for underserved and vulnerable populations at hospitals in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Dr. Bryant Thomas Karras, the chief medical informatics officer and senior epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, guides informatics and HIE efforts. He has spearheaded state healthcare initiatives, including efforts to increase adoption of health information technology, detect disease outbreaks in their early stages and more. Previously, Karras served as an internal medicine physician at a number of hospitals in Connecticut, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.
Anna McCollister is a patient advocate, entrepreneur and advisor on various health technology, data use and healthcare quality initiatives. McCollister served on a number of national committees, including on a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee focused on endocrinologic and metabolic drugs and on a National Quality Forum committee on quality measures for primary care and chronic illness. She was also the chief advocate for participatory research at the Scripps Translational Science Institute.
Deven McGraw is the lead for data stewardship and data sharing at Invitae Corp., a medical genetics company. She co-founded and was the chief regulatory officer of Ciitizen, a health technology company acquired by Invitae that enables patients to collect, manage and share their medical information. Her previous experience includes serving as the deputy director of health information privacy within the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, as the acting chief privacy officer for ONC and as a partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
Dr. Naresh Sundar Rajan is a chief data officer at CyncHealth, formerly known as the Nebraska Health Information Initiative, where he leads HIE data and modernization initiatives. He also supports the Prescription Monitoring Information Exchange Standards Organization and health-related research with large rural and underserved communities in Great Plains’ states. Previously, he worked for the state of Utah on analytics to share information on medication prescriber practices and for the state’s violence and injury prevention program.
THE LARGER TREND
The Cures Act charges the Secretary of Health and Human Services to appoint three members to HITAC, including a representative of HHS and one a public health official. The U.S. comptroller general, the Senate majority and minority leaders and the speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives appoint the remaining members.
ONC first opened applications for HITAC in 2017, calling for diverse applicants that would reflect the perspective of healthcare providers, ancillary health care workers, consumers, purchasers, payers, IT developers and others.
The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Micky Tripathi has been overseeing key provisions of the Cures Act in 2022. Early on, he cited information blocking, API standardization and Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement as transformative for healthcare interoperability.
“The vision of the Cures Act will become a reality and allow us to start to reap the full potential of what a truly digital health care system can do to improve the lives of patients,” Tripathi wrote in the journal Health Affairs at the start of the year.
ON THE RECORD
“HITAC is composed of individuals committed to improving the electronic access, exchange and use of health information,” Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States and head of the GAO, said in announcing the new HITAC members.
“Each year, many outstanding candidates express an interest in serving on the committee. Today, I’m pleased to announce this latest round of appointments, who I am confident will make excellent contributions.”
Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
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Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.