- Technology should serve as a “Trojan horse for change” and innovation, Susannah Fox, chief technology officer at HHS, told The Wall Street Journal.
- Fox, who assumed the role in June 2015, wants to expand the definition of technology “beyond code and data” to advanced manufacturing and craftsmanship.
- She also advocates greater openness around information and clinical trial results to advance new technologies.
“What happened with the democratization of access to information and data is going to be mirrored in the democratization of design and manufacturing tools. And it can’t happen quickly enough,” Fox said in a recent interview with the WSJ. Fox cited an occupational therapist in her 90s who is designing a new walker and a wheelchair-bound man who oversees a human-engineering research lab that is creating assistive devices.
Technology can help people learn from one another.
While doctors are still the number one source of healthcare information, increasing numbers of people are going online for additional information or to connect with people with similar medical problems. However, people age 65 and older and those living with disabilities are less likely to be users, meaning their wisdom may be lost in the greater conversation, Fox said.
Since joining HHS, Fox has indicated that she wants to nurture the entrepreneurial environment that her predecessors fostered. Her team runs the Ignite Accelerator and Secretary’s Ventures Fund, both of which support HHS employees’ willingness to take entrepreneurial risks. Her office also recruits talent from outside the agency for short-term entrepreneurial projects.
The CTO position was established in 2009, with the appointment of athenahealth and Castlight co-founder Todd Park. He was followed by Bryan Sivak, who co-founded InQuira and Electric Knowledge. While Fox served as entrepreneur in residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation immediately before joining HHS, the bulk of her work was research. As associate director of the Internet Project at the Pew Research Center, for example, she studied the impact of information technology and social media on the healthcare industry and patient experience.