Robert Kolodner, M.D., the former head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and more recently a senior adviser to the ONC, has retired from federal government service after 31 years. More than 28 of those years were spent at the Veterans Affairs Department and the Veterans Administration, where Kolodner started in 1977 and worked as a psychiatrist and in increasingly higher levels of leadership in healthcare IT. The VA's Decentralized Hospital Computer Program, later renamed VistA, was developed during that period. Kolodner was the chief health informatics officer for the VA when he left to go to ONC in September 2006 as interim director, replacing David Brailer, M.D., the first ONC head. Kolodner was named permanent head of the ONC by then HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt in April 2007, and held the position until David Blumenthal, M.D., was named to replace him in March. Kolodner was voted 56th on Modern Healthcare's 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare list in 2008. In a farewell e-mail announcement, he said he has spent “31 gratifying years in public service.” “What started out for me as a one-year transition from residency into private practice took an unexpected turned into the opportunity of a lifetime,” Kolodner wrote. “Notwithstanding the occasional challenges along the way, there is no other career path I would rather have pursued. “I am humbled by the superb quality of the people with whom I have had the good fortune to know and work with in the federal government,” Kolodner said. “And I have been very impressed that we have a ‘deep bench' in federal service, with excellent people stepping up again and again to carry on, and even surpass, the work and the vision of the previous wave of leaders and key staff.”
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