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CMS Appoints First Chief Healthcare Informatics Officer


Roche will be responsible helping implement CMS' interoperability strategy and MyHealthEData initiative.

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Mark Roche, M.D., will serve as its first chief healthcare informatics officer in the Office of the Administrator.

While CMS has focused a lot on interoperability in health information technology (IT), the role of chief healthcare informatics officer should have been established sooner, according to Seema Verma, CMS Administrator.

Mark Roche, M.D.

Mark Roche, M.D.

“The (chief healthcare informatics officer) will drive health IT and data sharing to enhance healthcare delivery, improve health outcomes, drive down costs and empower patients,” Verma wrote in a blog post last year about how CMS is doubling down on health IT and patients.

In Verma’s announcement yesterday, she wrote that Roche will be responsible for helping implement the clinical and technical aspects of CMS’ interoperability strategy and MyHealthEData initiative — which aims to empower patients by ensuring that they control their healthcare data and can decide how their data are going to be used.

Most recently, Roche served as physician advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2016-2019, where he focused on the digitization of substance-related data using interoperability standards, natural language processing and machine learning. Roche also held the physician advisor role for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) from 2012-2016. There, he led the design of the U.S. Interoperability Roadmap, developed components for the 2015 E-Certification Rule and electronic Clinical Quality Measures for CMS’ Meaningful Use Stage 3 program.

Along with the plethora of government positions Roche has held, he has worked at the U.S. National Cancer Institute and at Northwestern University as an adjunct professor for the master or science program in medical informatics.

The move is yet another in a long string of initiatives rolled out by CMS to improve interoperability in healthcare.

Just last month, CMS and ONC proposed interoperability rules for electronic health information.

“The challenge is great, but so is the reward — building the next generation of interoperable health systems for millions of Americans and affecting national and global health IT for good,” Verma wrote.

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