David Blumenthal to Leave ONC and Return to Harvard in Spring

Dr. David Blumenthal, a Harvard University researcher appointed by President Barack Obama to speed the health care system’s switch from paper to electronic records, announced today that he is stepping down this spring to return to Harvard.

“David will leave his post having built a strong foundation, created real momentum for (health information technology) adoption, charted a course for the meaningful use of (electronic health records) and launched a new phase of cooperative and supportive work with the health care community, states, and cities across the nation,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a memo.

David Brailer, President George W. Bush’s health IT “czar,” was complimentary of his successor. “He’s taken all the good things that we got started and laid it into a very durable, much more sophisticated framework. We had an upstart insurgent group and he turned it into a standing, legitimate agency.”

Blumenthal’s office “is a player. We were a bully pulpit before.”

“I think one of the other successes that Dr. Blumenthal has done is pull together a great team of people around him. … When it’s time for him to move on, I think there are many capable people,” said David Roberts, a Washington lobbyist for the Health Information and Management Systems Society.