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CCHIT Names Health IT Veteran To Chair

Dr. Karen Bell has been tapped to lead the Certification Commission for Health IT through a challenging but recharged health IT landscape.

Dr. Karen Bell is new chair to the Certification Commission for Health IT, but she isn't a newcomer to the nation's highest levels of health IT leadership.

After a five-month search, CCHIT said Monday it has named Bell its new chair effective April 26. Bell succeeds CCHIT's founding chairman Dr. Mark Leavitt, who is retiring.

Bell, a physician, was part of the original team of advisors working with the nation's first coordinator of health IT, Dr. David Brailer, when President Bush created the sub-cabinet position in 2004.

During the same time that Bell worked with Brailer in the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), the independent, non-profit CCHIT was launched. Since 2006, CCHIT has been the only organization that's been certifying health IT products.

But that will soon change. Under the HITECH provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, multiple organizations will be able to apply for accreditation to certify health IT products for compliance with the federal government's upcoming meaningful use requirements.

Bell is not a newcomer to private-public health IT leadership roles; she is a familiar face at CCHIT. While at ONC, Bell was ONC's representative on CCHIT's board of commissioners from 2006 to 2008.

And now in her new post, Bell is ready to take on the challenges of leading CCHIT into the new landscape of health IT evolution and mass adoption.

"Bottom line is that the certification commission has over the last four or five years been a trusted partner in the delivery system" of health IT systems, said Bell in an interview with InformationWeek.

Over the last year, CCHIT has introduced new programs that allow certification for modular EHR and home-grown systems for organizations that don't need or use more comprehensive or third-party systems.

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