Karen M. Bell

Karen M. Bell, M.D., M.M.S.
Director, Office of Health IT Adoption
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Bell is a board certified internist with extensive experience in office practice, public health, academic medicine, physician support, and the commercial health insurance sector.   She joined the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in October 2005 as acting director of the Office of Health IT Adoption; she was appointed permanent director in January 2006.  She was appointed acting Deputy National Coordinator in March 2006. Dr. Bell joined the Federal government in October 2004 after developing multiple successful payer contracting models that provided financial support for the adoption of clinical health information technologies (HIT) in the delivery system.  Dr. Bell’s work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services focused on supporting health information technology adoption through contracts with the Quality Improvement Organizations in every state.   A previous position with Partners Health Care in Boston provided the opportunity to work with a number of the physician groups affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She graduated from Pembroke College and Tufts University School of Medicine and trained at the Harvard teaching hospitals in Internal Medicine.  She spent two years at Toronto General Hospital in Canada and finished an infectious disease fellowship at the University of Chicago before accepting an appointment at the University of Rochester and the Department of Public Health in Rochester, NY.  While in Rochester, Dr. Bell was a principal investigator on the Medicare Demonstration Project that led to coverage of influenza vaccine for Medicare beneficiaries. When first relocating to Boston, she held an appointment at Harvard Medical School, teaching in the second-year core curriculum, while practicing as an internist at MGH and serving as a Medical Director at Harvard Community Health Plan.  She maintains licensure in both Massachusetts and Maine, and continues to reside in Massachusetts with her husband, a cardiologist at MGH. Her current work includes development, implementation, and coordination of strategies to incentivize adoption of HIT and personal health management tools; oversight and evaluation of an HIT certification process; and identification and documentation of methods to assess HIT use as well as the costs and benefits of interoperable technologies.