Walter Suarez is a physician and public health and medical information systems specialist, and the executive director of Health IT Strategy and Policy for Kaiser Permanente. He is responsible for facilitating the development of Kaiser Permanente’s internal and external Health IT policy positions and providing national and international leadership and guidance on behalf of Kaiser Permanente on several health IT-related domains, including digital health, electronic health record systems, health administrative processes, privacy and security, medical device interoperability, and health information exchanges.
Before joining Kaiser Permanente, Walter was the president and CEO of the Institute for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)/Health Information Technology (HIT) Education and Research. Prior to this, he was the CEO of the Midwest Center for HIPAA Education and before that the executive director and CEO of the Minnesota Health Data Institute. He also worked for the Minnesota Department of Health in various senior policy positions.
In 2009, Walter was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to serve in the prestigious National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS), the oldest advisory committee to HHS. From 2009 to 2014, he served as co-chair of the Standards Sub-Committee and member of the Population Health and the Privacy and Security Sub-Committees. In 2015, Walter was appointed the chair of NCVHS, the first Hispanic physician to serve in this position. Walter is also a past member of the Health IT Standards Committee (HITSC) of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), and co-chaired the HITSC Privacy and Security Workgroup. He is an active member of several national and international organizations, including founding president and member of the Public Health Data Standards Consortium (PHDSC) Board of Directors; member of the Joint Public Health Informatics Task Force (JPHITF) Executive Board; and member of several national and international standards development organizations, including Health Level 7 (HL7), ASC-X12, and ISO TC215 Health Informatics.
Walter earned his medical degree from the Colombian School of Medicine and his master's in public health from Tulane University. He has been the recipient of numerous regional and national awards, including the Minnesota Physician’s Most Influential Health Care Leaders in 1997 and 1998, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) 2004, 2006, and 2007 Distinguished Service Award. He was also the first recipient of WEDI’s Andrew H. Melczer Excellence in Volunteerism Award in 2005 and WEDI’s 2015 Louis W. Sullivan Award of Excellence.