4 things to know about the new National Coordinator Dr. Vindell Washington

Vindell Washington, MD, was named the next National Coordinator of Health IT Thursday as the former National Coordinator, Karen DeSalvo, MD, transitions to focus full-time on her position as acting assistant secretary for health.   Dr. Washington has been with the ONC since January 2016, when he joined the agency as principal deputy national coordinator.

Here are four things to know about Dr. Washington as he assumes his new role, effective Friday.

1. Before joining the ONC, Dr. Washington was CMIO of Baton Rouge, La.-based Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, which has five acute care hospitals and affiliated facilities throughout the state. He also was president of FMOLHS medical group.

2. He also previously was CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Piedmont Healthcare Management Group, a healthcare management and technology company, that was acquired in 2008 by Anodyne Health. In 2009, Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth acquired Anodyne Health.

3. Dr. Washington is board-certified in emergency medicine, and he is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He earned his medical degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and he also holds a master of science in healthcare management from the Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston.

4. It was during Dr. Washington's time as a captain in the U.S. Army with a combat support hospital in Port Au Prince, Haiti, when he found his passion for health IT. In a May 2016 blog post for the ONC, Dr. Washington described an incidence when a fellow soldier presented with "confusing signs and symptoms."

"He came to our field hospital emergency department appearing generally ill with a rash, and we knew neither his diagnosis and appropriate treatment nor his prognosis," Dr. Washington wrote. His team set up a telecommunications platform on top of a Humvee and spoke with specialists at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., who were able to help them diagnosis the soldier.

"This primitive connection with a premier institution was invaluable and allowed us to properly diagnose and treat our patient. I recall thinking at the time, 'The way we traditionally think about practicing medicine will never be the same again,'" he wrote.

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