Could You Be the First CMS Chief Health Informatics Officer?

Jack Murtha

The agency created the role to support the goals of MyHealthEData.

As healthcare information technology (IT) continues its ascent, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is looking for a battle-hardened health-tech executive to help oversee the agency’s MyHealthEData initiative and reach its lofty goals.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma, M.P.H., announced today the creation of a new role in her agency: chief health informatics officer (CHIO). CMS officials have already kicked off recruitment efforts, and interested parties have until 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 20, to complete the application.

The establishment of the new position marks another step forward for an agency that, like many governments, is striving to leverage the potential benefits of health IT, big data, electronic health records (EHRs) and digital health—all while overcoming the growing pains that have hampered healthcare’s tech-centric evolution.

>> READ: Aiming for Patient Empowerment, White House Launches MyHealthEData Initiative

“If we can solve these health IT challenges, not only will patients benefit but so too will providers and payers,” Verma wrote in a blog post. “We are closer than ever to realizing these goals, but we are not there yet.”

This is not the agency’s first move to improve health tech. Last week, CMS announced proposed changes to Medicare’s Physician Fee Schedule that Verma said would improve how clinicians use EHRs, increasing doctor-patient time and decreasing provider burnout. This past spring, just as HIMSS18 was kicking into high gear, CMS unveiled an initiative called MyHealthEData, a stab at empowering patients by giving them access to their medical information and strengthening interoperability.

The new CHIO will be charged with executing the vision of MyHealthEData, promoting data sharing to improve care and outcomes, cut costs and help patients. The chosen candidate will work with other government officials and players from across the private healthcare sector.

CMS is also working on new initiatives, including the development of an application programming interface (API) strategy, which could fall under the new role.

“The truth is, as the largest healthcare payer in the country, CMS should have had a CHIO function long ago. Despite today’s amazing technology and decades of promises, we are not where we should be,” Verma wrote. “The time is now to realize the true potential of health IT for America’s patients.”

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