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INDUSTRY-EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: CHIME’s Russ Branzell on the ONC Muntz Departure

September 26, 2013
by Mark Hagland
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CHIME's Branzell on the transitions taking place at ONC

In an interview exclusive to Healthcare Informatics, Russell P. Branzell, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), shared his perspectives with HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland, on Sep. 26, the day on which the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced that David Muntz was resigning as Deputy National Coordinator for Health IT as of Oct 5., and that Jacob Reider, M.D., would begin serving as Acting National Coordinator for Health IT once Farzad Mostashari, M.D. steps down on Oct. 5. Below are excerpts from that interview.

What are your thoughts regarding the departure of David Muntz?

It's been an absolute blessing to have someone like David Muntz in the position in he’s been in, and in terms of his specific role at ONC. He's walked in our shoes, and it's been very positive. I think it's a loss for ONC not to have him there, and I would hope that they turn around and replace him with someone with like experience. And he's done an absolutely terrific job: he's brought his experience beautifully to that agency. And wherever he lands, I know he'll do very, very well.

Russell P. Branzell

What are your thoughts regarding the announcement of the appointment of Jacob Reider, M.D., as Acting National Coordinator?

I think it's a very logical move into that interim role. We've met with him numerous times. He's very reasonable to work with, and has actually been very helpful to us, and having worked on the provider side and also on the vendor (EMR) side, he's been very helpful. It's been good working with him the last several months. And they were interested in a physician being in there, at least in the interim.

If ONC shuts down because of the potential federal government shutdown next week, do you see any negative effects on the meaningful use process?

Well, I can't imagine that even a government shutdown would be an extended process. When I was in active-duty military, we were in continuing resolution well into the second quarter of the fiscal year. But even if we end up in a shutdown, it won't be for an extended period of time; so I wouldn't worry about that. Now, if we're shut down for three months, the whole world will come to a crashing halt. But I don't think that's going to happen.