Donald Rucker, M.D., formerly the vice president and chief medical officer at Siemens Healthcare, will lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), according to numerous media reports.
A press contact at ONC referred questions to HHS. Alleigh Marre, national spokesperson at HHS, responded by email and stated, “We are not commenting on personnel at this time.”
Rucker’s name was listed Friday on a HHS employee directory with the job title ONC National Coordinator. Politico’s eHealth reporter David Pittman posted the news on Twitter Friday afternoon, and Farzad Mostashari, M.D., former ONC National Coordinator, posted a congratulatory message.
According to Donald Rucker’s LinkedIn profile, he is currently an adjunct professor at Ohio State University’s college of medicine in the biomedical informatics department and emergency medicine. Previously, he was chief medical officer and consultant at Premise Health in Brentwood, Tenn., and he also was vice president and chief medical officer at Siemens Healthcare USA for 13 years. He earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, earned an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Master of Science in medical computer science and informatics at Stanford University.
Rucker also had been an emergency department physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and, according to his LinkedIn profile, he described himself as a “physician leader with national clinical informatics success.” He co-developed the first Microsoft Windows based electronic medical record (EMR), and was a designer of the computerized physician order entry module that won the 2003 HIMSS Nicholas Davies Award. He also has experience with health care policy on the vendor side as he has served on the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) and the ONC Certification and Adoption Workgroup, according to his LinkedIn profile.
As of early Friday evening, the news still had not been confirmed by HHS, however, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), a health IT industry association, released an official statement to its members from its CEO and president Russell Branzell: "Media reports and intelligence from other sources suggest that Donald Rucker, M.D., will be the next head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). We are still waiting for official confirmation from the Trump administration, but all signs are pointing in that direction. An adjunct professor at The Ohio State University, Rucker has an extensive background in healthcare and health IT. Before joining OSU, Rucker spent 13 years as chief medical officer at Siemens. He was also the 2003 recipient of the HIMSS Nicholas Davies Award for his work as Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
Branzell also wrote, "As we move into the next critical stages of assessing the Meaningful Use program, we are pleased to see the administration rounding out its health IT policy team. Rucker's appointment comes on the heels of news that John Fleming, a former U.S. representative, will serve as deputy assistant secretary for health technology. CHIME is committed to working with the administration and Congress as we address the future of Meaningful Use, improve interoperability and optimize health IT to improve patient care."
ONC helps guide the use of health IT across the country through standards and incentive programs. If HHS officials confirm the position then Rucker replaces Vindell Washington, M.D., who served as National Coordinator for only a few months before stepping down as the Presidential administration turned over. Since then, Jon White, M.D., has been leading the office as Acting National Coordinator.