The CMS has appointed Dr. Mark Roche as its first chief healthcare informatics officer, agency Administrator Seema Verma told staff Tuesday.
Roche, a physician informaticist, began the new role this week. As CHIO, he will oversee implementation of the agency's interoperability strategy and MyHealthEData, an initiative Verma announced last year meant to give patients more control over their health information.
Roche previously served as a physician adviser to HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Informatoin Technology, where he led design of the national interoperability road map and developed electronic clinical quality measures in support of the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program, formerly called "meaningful use."
Before his work at the ONC, Roche was an adjunct professor for Northwestern University's master of medical informatics program.
The CMS began seeking a CHIO in 2018 to help advance the Medicare Blue Button 2.0 program and its electronic health record incentive programs, among other efforts.
"The truth is, as the largest healthcare payer in the country, CMS should have had a CHIO function long ago," Verma wrote in a blog post published the day before the job application period closed in July. "Despite today's amazing technology and decades of promises, we are not where we should be."
Verma announced additional staff appointments in her email Tuesday.
Deidre Gifford, CMS' deputy director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services since 2016, has been assigned on detail to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. Gifford supported developing innovative payment models for CMS programs.
Dr. Marion Couch, former chair of the otolaryngology-head and neck surgery department at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has also joined the CMS as senior medical adviser, where she will help engage the medical community in the agency's programs. She will work with the Innovation Center on specialty payment innovation models and with the Center for Clinical Standards & Quality on the agency's Meaningful Measures initiative.