The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has named Clem McDonald, M.D., to the newly created position of chief health data standards officer.
The NLM said the new position demonstrates its commitment to health data standards. The new position’s responsibilities will involve integrating standards efforts across the Library, including the FHIR interoperability standard, Common Data Elements, and the vocabularies specific to clinical care (e.g., RxNORM, LOINC, SNOMED). The chief will also develop partnerships with industry, academia, and other federal agencies to advance the use of health data standards in clinical practice, public health, and observational data, including sensors.
For the last 12 years, Dr. McDonald served as Director of the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications (LHNCBC) and Scientific Director of its intramural research program. His research focuses on clinical informatics; tools based on HL7’s FHIR to facilitate the use of electronic health records and research bases; the analysis of large clinical databases; the promotion, development, enhancement, and adoption of clinical messaging and vocabulary standards; and text de-identification.
Prior to coming to NLM, Dr. McDonald served as the Regenstrief Professor of Medical Informatics at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Director of the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care, a privately endowed research institute working to integrate research discovery, technological advances, and systems improvement into the practice of medicine.
Dr. McDonald developed the Regenstrief Medical Record, one of the first electronic health record systems, and introduced the use of randomized trials to study health information systems. With NLM support, he and his colleagues developed the first Health Information Exchange, now loaded with 6 billion results from hospitals across Indiana. He also initiated the Logical Observation Identifier Names and Codes (LOINC) database observations for laboratory tests, clinical measurements, and clinical reports, and he was one of the founders of the Health Level 7 (HL7) message standards, used in hospitals today.
“Dr. McDonald was an early medical informatics pioneer and has spent his career leading data standards efforts. We are indeed fortunate to have enlisted him as the inaugural holder of this appointment,” said NLM Director Patricia Flatley Brennan, R.N., Ph.D., in a prepared statement.