In a boost to the open-source electronic health-records movement, Robert Kolodner, M.D., former head of HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, joined Open Health Tools, Asheville, N.C., as chief health information officer.
“We're still working through the details,” Kolodner says of his specific duties. “It's all about personal-centered health and improving the health of individuals worldwide. We're looking at innovative ways to collaborate and establishing sort of a hybrid open-source technology.”
Open Health Tools is a community of global IT corporations, academic institutions, government and not-for-profit organizations, and individuals whose aim is “to create a common health interoperability framework, exemplary tools and reference applications to support health information interoperability,” according to the organization's Web site.
Launched in 2007, Open Health Tools uses the legal framework and software-development tools of the Eclipse Foundation, a popular software-development platform. One of the pioneers of the Eclipse Foundation, Skip McGaughey, is the executive director of Open Health Tools.
Members of Open Health Tools include such familiar names in healthcare IT as IBM Corp., Misys, Oracle and Red Hat. Other members include DSS, which contracts with the Veterans Affairs Department and offers its own open-source version of the VA's VistA clinical IT system; standards development organization Health Level 7; Canada Health Infoway; Oregon State University Open Source Lab; the U.S. Indian Health Service; and the VA.
Kolodner, a psychiatrist and Yale medical school graduate, served 28 years at the VA and is among the IT pioneers who helped develop its Decentralized Hospital Computer Program, later renamed VistA. He was the chief medical information officer at the VA in 2006 when he transferred to HHS as interim head of ONC. Kolodner was named as head of the ONC in 2007. Kolodner also was ranked 38th place in Modern Physician's 50 Most Powerful Physicians in Healthcare in 2008.
At the ONC, Kolodner coordinated all federal healthcare IT activities, including the creation and release by the Federal Health Architecture initiative in April of Connect—an open-source software interface between federal IT systems and the proposed National Health Information Network. He was replaced at ONC by David Blumenthal, M.D., later that month and had been serving as an IT adviser to the government until his retirement on Sept. 22.
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