New US CTO to Push EHR in the Cloud?

With the White House announcement of Todd Park, HHS Chief Technology Officer (CTO), as the new U.S. CTO, we could see federal EHR initiatives focus more specifically on the cloud. Prior to serving as HHS CTO from 2009 to 2012, Mr. Park founded athenahealth with partner Jonathan S. Bush.  The partners had worked at the same consulting firm and both attended Harvard University. Despite leaving the company in October 2009 as a prerequisite of government service, still features a 5 minute video of Park providing an overview of the company’s cloud based EHR and related services for physician practices.

Park is known as a technovangelist. At HHS, he championed what has become the Health Data Community on According to the website, the Health Data Community is:

… a public resource designed to bring together high-value datasets, tools, and applications using data about health and health care to support your need for better knowledge and to help you to solve problems. These datasets and tools have been gathered from agencies across the Federal government with the goal of improving health for all Americans.

The Health Apps Expo, a section of the Health Data Community, is an online aggregation of applications, datasets and APIs that use health data with the objective of improving health. One of the featured apps, Nephosity, is a medical image viewer and collaboration tool for the iPad that uses cloud technology to allow doctors to share images between iPads and collaborate to improve patient care. This is one of a growing number of “Health 2.0” enabling technologies that Park promotes.

Mr. Park has reportedly been predicting since 2005 that the future of healthcare IT lies in cloud computing. The White House press release says Mr. Park is tasked with “applying the newest technology and latest advances to make the Federal government work better for the American people.” Since athenahealth is considered one of the The 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2012 by Technology Review for developing cloud-based EHR practice management software, it’s not a stretch to think Mr. Park may see EHR in the cloud as a worthy federal investment.