Meet The Woman In Charge Of Making The U.S. Health Department Smarter

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By Alexander Howard

Susannah Fox, an expert on how the Internet affects Americans’ health, is now in charge of improving how the United States government uses technology to deliver and improve health care.

On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell named Susanna Fox, an entrepreneur-in-residence at at the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, as the health department’s new chief technology officer. Fox is the first woman to hold the position.

Fox plans to liberate more health data for the public good, nurture entrepreneurial spirit within the immense HHS bureaucracy and highlight how citizens are improving their own health and well-being — all themes that she’s been passionate about for years.

“The most exciting innovation is not just access to information but access to each other,” Fox told me last June.

Digital health care entrepreneurs, academics and patient advocates are thrilled that one of their own will be taking on the role pioneered by former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and extended by Bryan Sivak, who departed from the HHS CTO role last month. So is Fox’s new boss.

“As the CTO, Susannah will bring her commitment to promoting the effective and responsible use of technology throughout the health care sector to improve health outcomes and the patient experience around the country,” Burwell said in a statement.

Fox has been an advocate for patients, caregivers and the thoughtful integration of technology into how we learn and deliver healing to one another. Her entrance into public service is good news for Americans and the HSS.

In the video below, recorded last year, Fox talks with me about health care and the Internet:

In this next video, also recorded last year, Fox talks with me about how the data generated by wearable computing devices like the Fitbit or Apple Watch will be relevant to patient health and clinical decisions:

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