New CCHIT Head, Karen Bell

As always, Chilmark Research has a nice post up talking about the new head of CCHIT, Karen Bell. You can see the official CCHIT announcement here.

Chilmark brings up two interesting points about what he thinks we can expect from Karen Bell as head of CCHIT.

Dr. Bell knows Washington DC and HHS quite well from her many years there. She is effective in a highly politicized environment and will be able to effectively lead CCHIT through that political minefield.

Dr. Bell will put up a Chinese Wall between CCHIT and the HIT vendor organization, HIMSS. She is fully aware of the perceived conflicts of interest between CCHIT and HIMSS and will seek to create some distance between these two organizations.

I first must say that the first part is a really smart move by CCHIT. I’d always wondered why CCHIT didn’t have more influence and connection in Washington. That seems like a core competency that they’d want to have to survive. They should have had all the information from HHS before anyone else and they didn’t. I wonder if Dr. Bell will be able to do that for them now.

The second part seems a bit like Chilmark dreaming and hoping. I have a strong feeling that Dr. Bell does indeed realize the conflict and would desire to create that separation. However, I have serious doubts that she will change much of the structure even if she could (which I think might not be possible).

I say this first because Dr. Bell was a representative on CCHIT’s board of commissioners from 2006-2008. Why didn’t she effect this separation back then? Seems like the board of commissioners would have some reasonable control over this.

The answer might lie in the inability to make such a change. Notice I didn’t say her inability. I said the inability. It’s quite possible that there are just too many external pressures for her to break CCHIT’s strong ties with EMR vendors. Of course, nothing would make me happier than for Dr. Bell to prove me wrong. No doubt that would be a most impressive accomplishment.

With all of this said, the real question is, “Does anyone care?” As Chilmark aptly points out, “have yet to see any demonstrable proof that CCHIT certification has moved the EHR/EMR adoption needle in any statistically meaningful way” Beyond that, if ONC does there job, doctors will finally get the information that it’s ARRA EHR Certification that matters and not CCHIT certification. That will take some time to change, but it’s starting to happen. If (and when?) it happens, will anyone care much about CCHIT anymore?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.