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Health Information Technology

About the Office of e-Health Coordination

The Office of e-Health Coordination provides leadership to and acts as a single point of coordination for health information technology initiatives in the State of Texas. The office ensures that health information technology projects and programs are coordinated across the State’s health and human services agencies, facilitates coordination between the Texas and federal or multi-state projects, and provides assistance to local and regional health IT projects.
This includes:

  • Creating a collaboration and coordination infrastructure on related health information policy and technology, in particular in cross-divisional and multi-agency projects.
  • Identifying and prioritizing health information technology initiatives that can help improve health outcomes.
  • Serving as the single point of contact for state funding opportunities under Title XIII of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Supporting the state-level infrastructure efforts of the Texas Health Services Authority.
  • Collaborating with the Electronic Health Information Exchange System Advisory Committee and other state-level health information technology leadership bodies.

Office of e-Health Coordination Contacts

Director:
Stephen Palmer, (512) 487-3308

Policy Analysts:
Merila Walker (512) 424-6889
Catherine Colman (512) 487-3495

Consultant and Business Analyst:
Taylor Cook
(512) 424-6965

Bios

Stephen Palmer serves as the Director of the Office of e-Health Coordination for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the State Health Information Technology (HIT) Coordinator.In this role, he is responsible for leading the Office of e-Health Coordination and coordinating the numerous HIT initiatives that are being implemented within the HHS system and externally.Mr. Palmer also serves as an advisory member of the State Alliance for eHealth, a federal advisory committee responsible for developing recommendations relating to the state role in federal health information technology policy for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.Prior to joining the Health and Human Services Commission, Mr. Palmer served as the lead policy analyst for the Texas Health Care Policy Council in the Office of the Governor, the Governor’s advisor for health information technology, the Project Director for the Texas Health Information Technology Advisory Committee, and the Chair of the Texas delegation to the Gulf Coast Health Information Technology Task Force.Prior to joining the Office of the Governor, Mr. Palmer worked as a Medicaid/CHIP policy advisor to the Deputy Executive Commissioner for Health Services at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.Mr. Palmer also previously worked on the policy staff of the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  Prior to changing careers into public policy, Mr. Palmer was an information technology consultant focusing on interface programming and database administration.Mr. Palmer received a Bachelor’s degree in physics and philosophy from Rice University and a Masters in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and is currently pursuing a PhD in public policy, also from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where his research focuses on health information technology policy.

Merila Walker serves as a Policy Analyst in the Office of e-Health Coordination for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.In this role, she is actively involved in coordinating and administering numerous HIT initiatives that are being implemented within the HHSC system and externally.Prior to joining the Health and Human Services Commission, Ms. Walker completed the Health Information Technology Certificate Program at the University of Texas at Austin and earned certification as a Health Information Technology Manager and Exchange Specialist.Her interest in research and ethics is evident in her previous work experience which includes serving as a voting board member of an independent review board (IRB) and a certified clinical research coordinator for an interventional cardiology and endovascular institute. Ms. Walker received a BA from the Plan II Honors Program and a BS in biology with a concentration in genetics and biotechnology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Catherine Colman is a Policy Analyst with the Office of e-Health Coordination. She holds a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration and a master’s degree in health services research, both from Texas State University-San Marcos. Catherine was also among the first graduating class from the ONC-funded university based training program at Texas State, receiving a graduate certificate in health information technology. Her previous work experience is in the pharmacy benefit management business as an account manager, assisting employers with designing benefits packages to best suit their needs and manage the health of their employees. She was also involved in the development and initiation of the Texas Health Information Technology Workforce Development Project, the Executive Committee of which she now participates in on behalf of the Office of e-Health Coordination.

Taylor Michelle Cook is a Consultant and Business Analyst in the Office of e-Health Coordination. She began her career in health care policy in 2008 as a fellow in the Office of the Governor. After her fellowship she was hired to help staff the Texas Health Care Policy Council and the Texas Health Services Authority. When HHSC was selected as the state designated entity under the federal HIE Cooperative Agreement Program, Taylor transitioned to the agency to help the State HIT Coordinator develop and implement the State HIE Strategic and Operational Plans and facilitate statewide HIT/HIE Coordination. After leaving the office to pursue an opportunity abroad, Taylor returned to the OeHC as a contractor in May, 2012. Taylor has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from Hollins University and Graduate degrees in Economics and Public Administration from the University of Montana.