All three of the ONC chiefs thus far have been physicians, but with so many nurses involved in medical informatics, there doubtless are some great candidates in the nursing ranks. So point them out.
Another reason for a poll is that there already is something of a grassroots campaign under way to influence the ONC selection.
It began a couple of weeks ago on the listserv of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems. AMDIS members aim to “write in” AMDIS President Dr. William Bria, the chief medical information officer of the Shriners Hospitals for Children network.
At first, I wondered if this was merely good fun and flattery from Bria's friends, but having spoken with Bria and some of his AMDIS colleagues, there is a serious element to it.
Bill is readily accessible and comfortable talking to the press—qualities not all ONC chiefs have shared.
He also has drunk the health IT Kool-Aid. Bria believes in HIT with his heart and soul, which, I think, is going to be even more of an essential quality for the nation's IT leader going forward than in the past. Health IT adopters will face a broader rollout of these systems while facing more stringent meaningful-use requirements in the Stage 2 and Stage 3 criteria. The next ONC leader is going to have to handle the inevitable pushback, and someone with personal experience in climbing the health IT mountain will be in the best position to handle it.
Lately, as I've listened to Dr. Blumenthal speak of all the federal health IT programs still up in the air, I've thought of the statement attributed to Abraham Lincoln when asked whether he enjoyed being president. Lincoln likened the experience to being tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. “If it wasn't for the honor of the thing,” he said, “I'd rather walk.”
To nominate your choice to head ONC, go here. Here are the rules: This is an open nomination. One nominee per person. To enforce this rule and to try and ward off corporate campaigns, please include your name, workplace and e-mail address and in 25 words or less say why your candidate would be best for the position.
The identities of people who suggest a candidate will be kept confidential by Modern Healthcare, but we will include a check box on the form to let us know if you agree to be interviewed later about your nominee.
We'll take the top nominees and have a second, closed ballot.