Without any noticeable fanfare, the Federal Communications Commission has chosen its new director of health care initiatives: Matthew Quinn. The agency first published a job posting for the position in December.
Quinn has previously worked at a number of government agencies, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Before he switched to government work, Quinn was the healthcare industry program manager for Teradata, an enterprise analytic technologies and services provider. He also worked at NCR's patient safety software division Quantros, GE Healthcare, and helped build an early PHR company after serving in the US military as an Army Engineer Officer.
According to the FCC's job posting back in December, the Director of Health Care Initiatives will serve for a maximum of four years: “The incumbent will lead the agency’s efforts in facilitating and promoting communications technologies and services that improve the quality of health care for all citizens and help reduce health care costs; facilitating the availability of medical devices that use spectrum; and ensuring hospitals and other health care facilities have required connectivity,” the posting read.
The job description includes advising the FCC on health issues, providing guidance to the team overhauling the $400 million Rural Health Care program, working with other government bodies like the NIH and the FDA, and working with the private health care sector to develop effective FCC programs.
The West Health Institute's director of public policy Kerry McDermott was the last person to head up health care initiatives for the FCC. McDermott previously led the FCC's healthcare efforts and helped Mo Kaushal and Spencer Hutchins write the healthcare chapter in the FCC's National Broadband Plan. Following the National Broadband Plan's publication all three of them left the FCC to join the then-named West Wireless Health Institute. In 2011 the American Telemedicine Association published an open letter to the FCC criticizing the agency for going "silent" on healthcare since the publication of its National Broadband Plan in early 2010. In its letter the ATA also noted "the departure of every key professional staff from the Commission involved in healthcare policy."
Last September the FCC held a public briefing this week with its mHealth Task Force, which formed in June 2012 to gather input from healthcare professionals and technologists to create a report full of "concrete" next steps that the FCC (and other agencies) can take to facilitate the adoption and acceleration of mHealth in the United States. One of the task force's key suggestions was that the FCC hire a new healthcare director immediately.
Special thanks to Health 2.0's Matthew Holt for mentioning Quinn's appointment in a comment on a MobiHealthNews post this week. While the FCC itself has not confirmed the news, and we could not reach Quinn for comment, MobiHealthNews has confirmed the appointment with other sources. Also, Quinn is scheduled to speak at the Care Continuum Alliance's upcoming event in Washington DC as the FCC's Director of Health Care Initiatives.