Sankaran leaving Federal Health Architecture role

Wednesday - 4/28/2010, 12:58pm EDT

(Federal News Radio file photo)
By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The person responsible for leading the Federal Health Architecture effort the Department of Health and Human Services is stepping down.

Vish Sankaran, program director for HHS's Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Federal Health Architecture initiative, tells co-workers in a letter today that he leaving his position in the next several weeks to pursue other opportunities.

"This was not an easy decision, but it comes at an ideal time for FHA and for me, when FHA is reshaping to fit in with the overarching federal health IT body being formed," Sankaran writes in his e-mail obtained by Federal News Radio. "This is also a great time to bring in new leadership to further the great work you've already accomplished. And on the personal front, I am exploring exciting new opportunities that will allow me to continue my passion."

FHA is responsible ensuring federal agencies can seamlessly exchange health data between and among themselves; with state, tribal and local governments and with private sector healthcare organizations. It also uses federal expertise to create a cross-agency health information interoperability architecture framework that provides a common vocabulary, simple tools and lifecycle processes. FHA also facilitates cross-agency collaboration to create a unified federal approach in using health IT.

Sankaran joined ONC shortly after President Bush issued the Executive Order to establish the national coordinator for health IT and promoting incentives for health technology in June 2004.

"Our achievements have been significant, creating a template for how the public and private sectors could work together to set a new bar for health information exchange and to create an "ecosystem" of buyers and sellers in the marketplace," he writes. "A great illustration of our collaboration is the CONNECT solution, which has been adopted by both government agencies and the private sector. This open-source platform has evolved into a venue for innovation which continues to this day."

He has promoted health IT and the architecture at many conferences and events. The FHA program has received seven awards from organizations around the country for its work.

"My time here was my first exposure to the inner-workings of the federal government - and more than anything else, I learned that our government is staffed with dedicated and hard working individuals," Sankaran writes. "I wish all Americans would have had the opportunity to share my experience. I now understand that public service is more than a career - it is a calling. I look forward to continuing to be involved in the national effort to make health and human services a transformative force for our society."

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