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INDUSTRY-EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: CHIME's Russ Branzell Speaks First to HCI about the DeSalvo Appointment

December 19, 2013
by Mark Hagland
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Moments after news broke of the DeSalvo appointment at ONC, CHIME's Branzell spoke first exclusively with HCI
Russell P. Branzell

Moments after the news broke that the Department of health and Human Services had named Karen DeSalvo, M.D., New Orleans Health Commissioner, the new National Coordinator Health Information Technology at the Office of the National Coordinator for health Information Technology (ONC), Russell P. Branzell, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), spoke first exclusively to HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland about the appointment.

What do you think of the selection of Dr. DeSalvo as the new National Coordinator?

I attended a special presentation by the New Orelans Bio District that was held at the HIMSS Conference in New Orleans in February. I was very impressed with the work they’ve done in New Orleans, and of course, Dr. DeSalvo was part of that leadership group. They’ve really focused on improving care in the community post-Katrina, in the context of limited resources, and dealing with a lot of low-income, sometimes-transient workers. And they also used it as an the healthcare sector as an economic stimulus, as a tool to invigorate and drive business in the community. What’s important there is that there are two things that businesses use to decide on whether to invest in a community: schools and healthcare. And what you’ve seen in New Orleans is that they’ve created so much momentum down there.

So do you believe this is a good choice?

Yes, it is. One of the things we at CHIME were asked about during this selection process was what we were looking for in the new National Coordinator. And one thing was that we wanted someone who comes from the field and knows the pains of doing this, knows the challenges of deploying healthcare IT in a real-world. I think she’s a logical fit with that experience. And the other intriguing thing is that she and her colleagues have been using HIT to drive population health. And that was one of her initiatives down there. So she brings real-world practice experience that is needed, to this role. So, with this appointment, we’re pleased that we’ll be able to advance our partnership with ONC and with the entire HHS organization, to really help it to fulfill want it to fulfill, with meaningful use.