About FDA

Meet Taha A. Kass-Hout, M.D., M.S., Chief Health Informatics Officer, Director of the Office of Health Informatics

Taha A. Kass-Hout, M.D., M.S., FDA Chief Health Information Officer

Dr. Kass-Hout joined FDA in March 2013 as the Agency’s first Chief Health Informatics Officer and in 2015 also became Director of its Office of Health Informatics. With nearly two decades of expertise in driving innovation in health informatics and technology, Dr. Kass-Hout provides long- and short-term strategic, operational, and tactical planning activities for the public and private sectors. He brings agile development and user-experience design (UX) practices to the government to demonstrate results early and often, and apply accountability to those efforts that are not meeting expectations. His responsibilities include serving as Ex Officio to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) for topics that address patient electronic health record interoperability, big data, and privacy in health care. Dr. Kass-Hout also serves as the chair of the Scientific and Research Domain Steering Committee across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). His achievements and innovations include:

  • precisionFDA (2015), referenced in the White House updated Strategy for American Innovation (2015) and part of the Presidential Precision Medicine initiative, enables a multi-sector partnership to foster modernization of the methods of developing and regulating tools for detecting patients’ genomic patterns relevant to disease development, progression, and treatment choices. PrecisionFDA is a crowd- (community) sourced, cloud-based informatics platform designed to advance the science and collaboration needed to ensure that genomic tests provide accurate and reliable genetic results.
  • openFDA (2014), also referenced in the White House updated Strategy for American Innovation (2015), provides public access to a number of high-value FDA datasets, an open source platform for public challenges issued by FDA, and a place for the community to interact with one other and FDA domain experts to spur innovation around FDA data. Current efforts deal with working on datasets in the following areas: 1) millions of adverse event and medication error reports submitted to FDA covering all regulated drugs; 2) information gathered from public notices about certain recalls of FDA-regulated products;and 3) detailed product label information on many FDA-regulated products. When openFDA debuted in June 2014, the APIs received more than 100 hits per second. To date, there are more than 100,000 Internet connected systems or devices worldwide and a large number of mobile and web health apps and research tools built by the community.
  • First Department of Health and Human Services program hosted completely in the Internet cloud (2011, BioSense 2.0). Dr. Kass-Hout developed the strategy and was responsible for the cloud implementation that reduced CDC’s maintenance costs by 95% (40% of current program funding at the time) over the original system, and made collected data and funding equally available to the state and local health departments. This has been credited as the largest connected network of electronic medical records and labs for sharing timely patient data and public health surveillance across jurisdictional boundaries in the U.S.
  • InSTEDD’s Riff disclaimer icon (2008) (InSTEDD, founded by Google, Inc. in 2006): an open source social networking and mobile platform for integrated early warning and response: On Jan 17, 2010, the Thomson Reuters Foundation used Riff to launch a first-of-its kind, free disaster-information service for the people of Port Au Prince, Haiti. More than 1 million SMS text messages were sent to the Haitian population with information to help them recover after the earthquake.
  • The Global Disease Surveillance Platform (GDSP™) disclaimer icon (2006), patent pending (WO/2008/013553 - 001395-014/US/D-1), a situation awareness platform to help predict, monitor, detect early, and enable timely response to national and global public health threats, such as a pandemic influenza.
  • eQuest disclaimer icon (2002), a just-in-time web-based survey creation and analysis solution used for epidemiologic and disease outbreak investigation. eQuest was the primary tool used by field epidemiologists during the investigation of and response to the 2003 global SARS outbreak. eQuest has additionally supported hundreds of disease outbreak investigations and public health field studies conducted by various public health agencies at all levels of the government.
  • Leader of the US informatics and information technology task to SARS global investigation and response (2003), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Kass-Hout holds an M.D. and an M.S. in Biostatistics from the University of Texas. He did his clinical training at Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston.

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Page Last Updated: 01/14/2016
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