What we know about the nation’s newest health IT czar

Donald Rucker

On Friday, Politico broke the story that Donald W. Rucker, M.D., has been named the new national coordinator for health information technology. Rucker is the first head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in the Trump administration.

His appointment carried no official announcement and did not require Senate confirmation. As of Monday afternoon, the ONC website did not have him listed under their leadership bios page.

Here’s what we know about Rucker:

He’s well liked.

Praise came pouring in from around the health IT ecosystem for the Rucker selection. Former national coordinators, including his immediate past predecessors from the Obama era, Vindell Washington and Karen DeSalvo, welcomed him warmly via Twitter.

“His background certainly seems to make him well qualified, and I am excited that the ONC team will have a leader so early in the administration so they can press on with their important work,“ DeSalvo told Health Data Management’s Greg Slabodkin.

Interest groups also applauded the choice.

“We are always glad when an exceptionally qualified informatician joins the ONC team,“ said Doug Fridsma, CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association, according to Politico. “Our healthcare system will require professionals who understand how to collect, analyze, and apply data so that we can turn that data into knowledge, and knowledge into action.”

He’s qualified.

Rucker is a former emergency medicine physician who holds advanced degrees in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and master’s degrees in business administration and medical computer science from Stanford University. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Harvard.

From 2000 to 2013 he was vice president and chief medical officer at Siemens Healthcare. In that role, he helped hospitals around the country implement computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems. He also served on several high-profile working groups on developing imaging quality measures and electronic health records policy, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Since 2015, Rucker has been chief medical officer and consultant at Premise Health, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based workplace wellness consulting firm. And since 2013, he has held a professorship in clinical emergency medicine and biomedical informatics at Ohio State University.

Rucker takes over from acting national coordinator Jon White, M.D.

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