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Blumenthal to serve as national health IT coordinator (MC)

Physician, researcher and healthcare policy wonk David Blumenthal was named as President Barack Obama’s choice to become the national coordinator for health information technology at HHS.

Blumenthal, an internist who founded the Institute for Health Policy at 907-bed Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, in 1998, intimately knows the size and contours of the gaps in EHR adoption rates at U.S. hospitals and doctors’ offices.

The institute, under contract with HHS, has produced multiple reports on the EHR penetration gaps at hospitals and physician offices. It is scheduled Tuesday to release results of a study—to be concurrently published in the New England Journal of Medicine—on EHR use in hospitals as well as a discussion on how to best use the estimated $19.2 billion in federal government subsidies for health information technology contained in the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which deals with stimulus spending. Congress specifically appropriated $2 billion for the Office of the National Coordinator.

No stranger to national healthcare politics, starting in 2007, Blumenthal became senior health adviser for Obama’s presidential campaign and previously served on the White House Health Professional Advisory Group during the Clinton administration. Before that, he was a staff member on Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Health and Scientific Research Subcommittee.

Blumenthal, who replaces physician Robert Kolodner as ONC chief, was named to Modern Healthcare’s list of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare in 2003, 2004 and 2006.