Harvard’s Blumenthal gets HHS HIT post

David Blumenthal
David Blumenthal

What did I tell you?

 Dr. Blumenthal has already been working with the White House and you can see his hand in Obama’s health plan. 

The Department of Health and Human Services today announced the selection of David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. as the Obama Administration’s choice for National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.  As the National Coordinator, Dr. Blumenthal will lead the implementation of a nationwide interoperable, privacy-protected health information technology infrastructure as called for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

“I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve President Obama and the American people in the effort to harness the power of health information technology to modernize our health care system,” said Dr. Blumenthal. “As a primary care physician who has used an electronic record to care for patients every day for 10 years, I understand the enormous potential of this technology. President Obama has laid out a vision of health reform that is both inspiring and long overdue. We cannot make that vision a reality without the help of our most advanced computer technology.”  

Dr. B has been researching HIT lately, but  I got to to know his work through his research on industry/academic relationships. Much of that research is being carried on now by Eric Campbell at Harvard IHP.  They have contributed much quantitative work on the subject.

For an anecdote, they could just wander over to Fruit Street, where more details are emerging about Harvard child psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Biederman and his relationships with drug makers. Liz Kowalczyk  of the Globe reports:

The expanded inquiry is based in part on slide presentations that summarize projects at the Johnson & Johnson Center for Pediatric Psychopathology Research, a center at Massachusetts General Hospital that was funded by Johnson & Johnson and headed by Biederman from 2002 to 2005.

Under the heading “Key Projects for 2005,” one slide promises to provide a J&J subsidiary, Janssen, “with critical competitive data on safety and efficacy of risperidone (an antipsychotic) in children” under age 10, while another talks about expanding use of the drug Concerta for teenagers with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Another slide indicates that a benefit of the center is to help J&J develop new uses for its drugs.

In a seven-page letter sent yesterday to Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust and Mass. General president Dr. Peter Slavin, Grassley, a Republican, said he is concerned about the implications of the slides and asks why they “suggest an expectation of positive outcomes” prior to the clinical trials.

Oops. Click here for Harvard IHT on COI.

Click here for more Harvard IHT on HIT.

(I tell my writing students not to use too many acronyms. I couldn’t  resist.)

For more on Partners and HIT check out an excerpt of my interview with John Glaser, HIT point man at Partners.

 For some of my work  on conflicts of interest for some industry sponsored docs, take your pick :

January 7, 2006, The Washington Post:” Divided Loyalties? Nonprofit Health Advocacy Groups Like to Portray Themselves as Patients’ Allies. Can They Serve Corporate Benefactors at the Same Time?” Lead story, “Health” section.

November 2003, Nature Medicine: The color of money: As the line between academia and industry blurs, conflict-of-interest issues have gone from black and white to all shades in between.

Science for Sale : A Harvard researcher could profit from a product he “independently” reviewed for the National Institutes of Health. The scientific community, dependent on corporate money, has no clear way to handle such conflicts. The Boston Phoenix, April 29, 1999.

The doctor and his implants: Can doctors with financial ties to medical products put a patient’s best interests ahead of their own? Or do potential payoffs cloud their medical judgment? The News & Observer, March 31,1994

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