HRSA creates a health IT office

A new office in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is focusing on using health information technology in the agency’s programs for the nation’s poor, uninsured and special needs populations.

HRSA’s Office of Health IT was officially created in a Dec. 27, 2005, Federal Register notice, but it was in development earlier in 2005. Associate HRSA Administrator Cheryl Austein-Casnoff joined the administration earlier this year, moving from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where she was head of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

David Bowman, a HRSA press officer, said the health IT office will form a policy council with representatives from HRSA to determine how the agency’s programs will support the health IT goals of the agency’s parent, the Department of Health and Human Services. “They’re pulling together elements within the agency to focus on this issue,” Bowman said.

The office will have three major components, a Division of Health IT Policy, an Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, and a Division of Health IT State and Community Assistance.

Bowman said Dena Puskin is continuing to lead the telehealth office, which was previously part of HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau. Heads of the two divisions have not yet been named, he said.

The health IT office will have about 20 employees when it is fully staffed, Bowman said.

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