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Overhage ’79 Lands Prestigious HHS Post

Wabash alumnus Dr. J. Marc Overhage ’79 has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Health Information Technology (HIT) Standards Committee. Dr. Overhage is one of just 23 people appointed to the federal committee tasked with building specifications and criteria for health information exchanges (HIE) nationwide.

Overhage, MD, PhD, is President and CEO of the Indiana Health Information Exchange, and will serve on the newly formed HIT Standards Committee established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. 

The Standards Committee is an advisory body charged with making recommendations to the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the implementation of key provisions for the establishment, specifications, and deployment of a $35 billion program for health information technology under the ARRA envisioned to speed health care reform and energize the American economy. 

Dr. Overhage also serves as the Director of Medical Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. and the Regenstrief Professor of Medical Informatics at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

"Under Marc’s leadership at the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana Health Information Exchange, Indiana has emerged as the national leader in connecting hospitals, physicians and patients in a secure and privacy protected way that will soon become a nationally mandated standard under the economic stimulus act and, likely, pending health care reform legislation," said David Johnson, President of BioCrossroads. "He is the right man, at the right place, at the right time — and thank heavens, he’s a Hoosier (and a Wabash graduate to boot)!"

Dr. Overhage was a physics major and member of Phi Gamma Delta at Wabash, and graduated with high honors in 1979. He earned his Ph.D. in biophysics and his M.D. from the Indiana University School of Medicine.

While he has broad interests in the use of informational interventions to modify physician behavior, the development of rule-based systems to implement guidelines or protocols has been a major focus of Dr. Overhage's research for the last 15 years. Using these tools, he has completed a number of large-scale studies of implementing guidelines in the outpatient and inpatient settings that examine the impact of process measures, costs and patient outcomes.

Dr. Overhage joins a prestigious group of national HIT experts advising the National Coordinator on standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the electronic formulation, exchange and use of health information on a nationwide scale and in an environment protective of the privacy and security of personal health information. 

Under the ARRA, the HIT Standards Committee is also charged, among other things, with establishing a schedule for assessing policy recommendations developed by a new, companion committee advising the National Coordinator, the HIT Policy Committee.

"This provides official ‘certification’ that Marc Overhage is, in fact, one of a handful of national thought leaders now tasked with putting the capabilities of health care information technology to work in the lives of patients, physicians and hospitals to provide better and more efficient healthcare and better health outcomes," added Johnson.

Dr. Overhage, who specializes in internal medicine, is a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics and the American College of Physicians. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

The HIT Standards Committee membership includes a broad range of providers, ancillary healthcare workers, consumers, purchasers, health plans, technology vendors, researchers, relevant federal agency officials and individuals with applicable experience in technical health care quality, privacy and security as well as in the electronic exchange and use of health information. 

The HIT Standards Committee is chaired by Dr. Jonathan Perlin of Healthcare Corporation of America and Dr. John Halamka of the Harvard Medical School, and met for the first time on May 15.