Healthcare Business News
Dr. David Blumenthal

Commonwealth Fund names Dr. David Blumenthal as next president

By Joseph Conn
Posted: July 26, 2012 - 3:00 pm ET

Dr. David Blumenthal, the former head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, will serve as the next president of the Commonwealth Fund, the New York-based not-for-profit organization announced.

Blumenthal will replace Karen Davis on Jan. 1, 2013, according to a Commonwealth Fund news release. Blumenthal also was named to the board of directors. He currently serves as chairman of the organization's Commission on a High Performance Health System.

The Commonwealth Fund's mission is to "promote a high-performing healthcare system that achieves better access, improved quality and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable," according to the organization's website. Davis announced in November that she would step down at the end of 2012.

Blumenthal was the third physician chief at the ONC; he was named to that post by President Barack Obama in March 2009 and took over from Dr. Robert Kolodner in May. He stepped down in the spring of 2011 to return to Harvard University, where he currently serves as a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and as chief health information and innovation officer at Partners HealthCare Systemm, Boston. Dr. Farzad Mostashari succeeded Blumenthal as head of the ONC. Blumenthal has been named by Modern Healthcare readers five times to the magazine's list of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and topped the list in 2010.

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Part of Blumenthal's legacy at ONC is the five-year Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, delivered in 2011 just before he stepped down.

But his tenure will forever be linked with the launch of an array of federal health IT promotional programs funded by a $2 billion direct appropriation to ONC by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Those programs include setting up a nationwide network of regional health IT extension centers, launching health IT workforce training programs in the nation's junior colleges, overseeing two key federal advisory committees on health IT policy and standards, and establishing testing and certification criteria for electronic health-record systems to be used in the massive, $27 billion ARRA-funded EHR incentive payment program under Medicare and Medicaid.

Before joining the ONC, Blumenthal served as the director of the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, which set a baseline for future health IT policy decisionmaking by conducting and helping to standardize research into provider adoption of EHR systems.

In a prepared statement, current Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis praised Blumenthal for his "national stature, broad experience and skill in leading while building consensus."

Davis said Blumenthal "is perfectly suited to lead the foundation in moving the U.S. healthcare system to one that achieves access to safe, high-quality, efficient and effective care for all Americans."

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