Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Director of the Office of Consumer eHealth to depart ONC

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Patient engagement is losing one of its leading champions following the announcement by the head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology indicated that its Director of the Office of Consumer Health would be stepping down in late July.

In an email to members of the ONC, National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, revealed that Lygeia Ricciardi, EdM, would be leaving the federal agency on July 25 after three and a half years of service. Ricciardi is credited within playing an integral role in the development of the division within the ONC focused on engaging consumers around eHealth, which she has overseen since May 2012.

Here is a snippet of Ricciardi’s accomplishments as described by DeSalvo:

Under Lygeia’s leadership, ONC and the communities we serve have articulated a shared vision in which the consumer, patient or caregiver, enabled by information and tools, can participate more fully as a partner in both their own health care and health. By collaborating with HHS leadership, news outlets and many other thought leaders, ONC has worked to put consumer e-Health “on the map” for health care and technology leaders and, increasingly, the general public.

Some highlights of the progress we’ve made in great part to Lygeia’s leadership:

• More and more patients every day are able to view, download and transmit their health records electronically under the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements – and many are using Blue Button technology.

• With support from the White House and the VA, ONC is leading the Blue Button Initiative, a public-private partnership with more than 500 influential provider organizations, health plans, pharmacies, labs, developers, consumer groups and federal agencies helping consumers and patients access their health information.

• Consumers are benefiting from new health tools and services being created as a result of innovation challenges, boot-camps, and technical guidelines that promote the use of a consistent set of standards for sharing consumer health information.

While the search for Ricciardi’s replacement gets underway, Erin Poetter Siminerio will shoulder many of the responsibilities of the Office of Consumer eHealth.

Meanwhile, Ricciardi’s future remains unknown. According to her bio on HealthIT.gov, she headed up a consulting practice specializing in consumer eHealth following stints as Director in the Health Program at the Markle Foundation and a Policy Advisor and Speechwriter for the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (among other roles). She holds a Master’s Degree in Education & Technology from Harvard University.

This is the latest personnel change taken place at the ONC following an announcement early this month that the ONC’s Chief Privacy Officer Joy Pritts will be leaving the federal agency on July 12, a bizarre development considering that DeSalvo earlier this month had named her a part of her leadership team as the ONC looks to its future beyond the HITECH Act.

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