The Government Accountability Office announced today that Abby Sears, president and chief executive officer of OCHIN, a national health technology nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, has been appointed to the federal Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC). HITAC advises national policy makers on how to safely advance electronic access, exchange and use of health information nationwide.
OCHIN provides health care IT services and support to more than 500 community health centers nationwide, serving 10,000 clinicians and over 5 million patients. In 2019, more than 34 million patient summaries have moved across OCHIN’s health information exchange network. OCHIN members treat patients in historically underserved communities, helping maintain America’s health care safety net.
“My perspective is shaped by 20 years at OCHIN delivering powerful health technology, services and research to ensure every community has access to the best care. I’m honored to serve on HITAC and to help elevate the needs and voices of patients and providers that often go unheard,” Sears said.
“Ms. Sears is a leader in both the nonprofit and health information technology fields,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in his letter of recommendation to HITAC. “She is particularly passionate about ensuring that underserved patients and the health centers and providers that care for them are understood and represented as we make technology, policy, clinical, and operational decisions that impact their care.”
“We are confident that Ms. Sears will ensure that the needs and challenges faced by safety net providers and their patients are represented. Her knowledge of a broad range of safety net providers, combined with her passion and expertise for using technology to improve access to high-quality health services, make her well prepared to contribute to HITAC,” said David Taylor, CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers, in his letter of recommendation.
Under Sears’ leadership, OCHIN has grown into a national network serving not only health centers but also public health departments and correctional facilities, using technology and data to innovate and transform health care while meeting federal, state and industry standards for health care delivery, quality and cost control. With her service to HITAC, Sears sees information technology and innovation as a tool to reduce burden on health care providers and improve how care is delivered. For example, one of OCHIN’s priorities is to increase telehealth opportunities in communities that lack adequate access to health care providers and specialists.