Brailer to head President's healthcare IT initiative

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The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, today announced the appointment of David Brailer, MD, PhD, to the newly formed position of National Health Information Technology (NHIT) coordinator to lead the President George W. Bush's initiative to computerize patient records over the next decade. Thompson, who Brailer will report to, announced the appointment at a Secretarial Summit on health information technology (IT) in Washington.

"Dr. Brailer is one of the pioneers in developing community health information exchanges and will now help jumpstart our efforts to improve the quality of care available across America by speeding the nation's progress in implementing these kinds of solutions," Secretary Thompson said.

Among Brailer's responsibilities, as outlined on April 26th by the White House in President Bush's announcement of the establishment of this position, are:

  • Guiding ongoing work on health information standards and working to identify and implement the various steps needed to support and encourage health information technology in the public and private health care delivery systems.

  • Coordinating partnerships between government agencies and private sector stakeholders to speed the adoption of health information technology.

One of the Brailer's office's first tasks will be to study options to create incentives in Medicare and other HHS programs to encourage the private sector to adopt interoperable electronic health records. It is estimated that a national health information network can save about $140 billion per year through improved care and reduced duplication of medical tests.

President Bush has proposed an additional $50 million in his fiscal year 2005 budget to support the development of local health information networks. In addition, the new office will work closely with the other components of HHS that are responsible for medical privacy and security regulations to ensure these efforts continue to secure and protect individually identifiable health information.

Brailer is recognized as a leader in how health information technology can enhance the delivery of safe, effective and efficient healthcare. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Health Technology Center in San Francisco and is advising a variety of regional and national efforts around the United States on information technology and quality of care.

Last summer, Brailer completed 10 years as chairman and CEO of CareScience Inc., a national registry of medical errors and physician and hospital performance. He also designed and oversaw development of the first peer-to-peer health information exchange technology and led its first implementation in Santa Barbara County, Calif.

Brailer holds doctoral degrees in both medicine and economics. While in medical school, he was a Charles A. Dana Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and was the first recipient of the National Library of Medicine Martin Epstein Award for his work on expert systems. He was the first medical student to serve on the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association and was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar. After completing his medical residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Brailer became board certified in internal medicine along the clinical investigator pathway. He earned his master's degree and doctorate in managerial economics at The Wharton School.

"Health information technology promises huge benefits, and we need to move quickly across many fronts to capture these benefits," Secretary Thompson said. "I asked the leaders of the health IT community to join me at this summit to see how we can press down on the accelerator and bring about the benefits of health IT even faster. The benefits are enormous, but the task is also enormously complex. We need more than a business-as-usual approach."

At the summit, Secretary Thompson also announced several new accomplishments in developing standards to help bring about electronic medical records and other health IT benefits:

  • HHS and other federal agencies will adopt 15 additional standards agreed to by the Consolidated Health Informatics (CHI) initiative to allow for the electronic exchange of clinical health information across the federal government.

  • HHS also announced that, starting today, the medical vocabulary known as SNOMED CT can be downloaded for free for use in the United States through HHS' National Library