About me

I help people navigate health and technology. I recently served as the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This Washington Post article captures the essence of my role at HHS, as does this Wall Street Journal article. And in this speech I explain how we created space for innovation at a federal agency.

From September 2014 – May 2015 I was the Entrepreneur in Residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation after 14 years at the Pew Research Center, where I directed the health and technology portfolio.

My work is enriched by the people I affectionately call the health geek tribe. I can’t imagine doing the work I do without the help of my community. So thanks for being here!

Here’s where I publish and hang out online:





HHS.gov blog

HHS IDEA Lab blog

If you would like to invite me to speak at your event, please contact the Bright Sight Group.

Please note: I’m happy to hear from people who have questions, ideas, stories, business plans, etc., but I rarely have time to engage in these wonderful “over the transom” inquiries. When I do, I post my thoughts as a public Q&A. Check out those posts — and please join in the conversation!

If you are looking for more details on my background and experience, here’s my LinkedIn profile and current bio:

Susannah Fox most recently served as the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She was responsible for helping HHS harness the power of data and technology to improve the health and welfare of the nation. As CTO, Susannah created opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation across the Department’s 27 divisions and 80,000+ employees.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Susannah served as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, helping to catalyze new ways to think about challenges and develop solutions that deliver impact. She has also advised organizations like the Collaborative Chronic Care Network as they work to improve care delivery by including people living with IBD, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis on their innovation teams.

From 2000-14, Susannah was an Associate Director of the Internet Project at the Pew Research Center where she helped quantify and explain the social impact of the internet. She pioneered participatory research methods at the Center in order to explore how information technology and social media affect the health care industry and the consumer health care experience, with a special focus on people living with chronic and rare conditions.

Susannah has a B.A. in Anthropology from Wesleyan University.

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25 thoughts on “About me

  1. I was at a cocktail party, struggling to describe in just a few sentences what I do for a living, when my friend Paul Tarini broke in and said, “You’re an internet geologist. You study the rocks, you don’t judge them.” Exactly. I study patterns in the online landscape and provide data and insights so people can make better decisions.


    I didn’t know Paul Tarini was the source of that phrase – thanks for sharing it!

    And, may I say, mazel tov.

    • Thanks, Dave! Yep, the site is live in beta (still need to add a few features) and one thing I’m very happy to share is the origin of the phrase I now use daily, thanks to Paul.

  2. Hey, how fabulous that I bumped into Ted Eytan’s tweet about your new blog — yay! Love the backstory for the “internet geologist” title. I am always struggling to explain to people concisely what I do — perhaps I should ask Paul Tarini to give me a moniker :)

    • You should ask him! Or Ted Eytan, who coined “community colleague.” Sometimes friends see us more clearly than we see ourselves.

  3. I was wondering how to explain all of what you do to the readers of my today’s post on rare diseases (Social media: best ally of patients with rare disease) as I quote you and Peer-to-Peer Health. Then, I decided to put a link to this post. Thank you Susannah for all the fine data you produce!

  4. I really like what you write and love the research work you have done with Pew Research, specially with Health 2.0. Thanks for studying the health and technology trends and reporting them. As a master’s graduate in health communication, your work has really motivated me, and helped me in my various projects during my masters program.

    • Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. Please jump in to any of the comment threads you see — the conversation is never over.

  5. Susannah-

    I’ve been binge reading your articles on peer-to-peer as the future of health tech. How exactly do you anticipate this playing out and why do you think WebMD (a dial-up generation company) is still so dominant?

  6. Hi Susannah —

    Nice work on your site! A suggestion for something to add… you’ve been the driving force behind so many great reports out of Pew. People like me reference them all the time. But sometimes it’s hard to find exactly what we need. Maybe you could do your own roundup or Cliff’s Notes version of key reports you wrote to help data seekers find the right report quickly. At minimum I’d suggest linking back to Pew’s site at the page you think is best for those of us who are specifically seeking “Susannah’s reports”.

    Thanks and cheers,

  7. Congratulations! Might I ask you please to consider joining the New England Regional Genetics Group as keynote speaker December 3-4 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire? I am happy to supply additional information. We are a professional organization of geneticists, genetic counselors, public health officials and consumers. We will be looking at evolving toward Precision Medicine.

  8. Greetings, I saw you speak at JP Morgan and wanted to reach out.

    We have built a program at South by SouthWest in Austin around pediatric innovation. The top 4 pediatric hospitals (Boston, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Texas) have set aside competitive pressures and are working together to create a showcase for the best emerging pediatric technologies from everywhere. This year we will have Steve Case as our emcee and committed judges like Charlotte, the Chief Investment Officer for the Gates Foundation VC arm.

    If you have interest and availability, we would love to invite you to be a judge for the event. 150 or so companies apply. 10 finalists will emerge and a winner will be awarded a prize and potential pilots on our campuses. The date is March 14th (Monday).

    If this is of interest, we would welcome your involvement.

    • My apologies for the slow reply — just found this in my spam filter. Thanks for the invite, which I know you also sent to my email address (susannah.fox at hhs.gov in case anyone else needs it). Sorry I couldn’t make the trip! It looks like the event was a success.

  9. Hi Susannah, I received word from the Human Engineering Robotics Laboratory, that you had a chance to see Obi, the robotic dining companion, today at their offices. I would love to speak further with you regarding Obi and HHS as we are a small start-up company trying to bring Obi into the hands of as many people who need this technology. I will follow-up with email to make sure you get this. Thanks again for your interest in Obi! – Scott Stone, Obi VP of Customer Experience

    • Hi Scott — thanks so much for this note and yes, I’d love to talk with you: susannah.fox at hhs.gov is the right email. Looking forward to it!

  10. Dear Susannah,

    As I am working with a team which is preparing to conduct a review of social media usage for public health interventions, I was delighted to find the fascinating website pewinternet.org and your insights, in particular.

    As we are looking at the intersection of “health equity” and Internet access globally (with analysis of other systematic reviews and primary data), I was particularly interested in the map under “Globally, Internet Access Varies Widely”, based on the Spring 2014 Global Attitudes survey. I was somewhat surprised to see such low Internet-usage percentages for many low- and middle-income countries, especially as we have heard about “wide” access to cell phones (though not necessarily smart phones, I presume).

    My question for you concerns the data source. I have had a tough time finding information on how exactly Pew obtained the percentages in other countries for the 2014 survey. Can you please point me to a source of information about the surveys conducted in other countries, either in response to this post or via old-fashioned email?

    Thank you, and keep up the terrific work of informing the world about trends in the U.S. and other parts!

    Jennifer Vincent

    PS: As a Canadian researcher, I was surprised to see that there were no Internet usage data for my home country on the Pew map!


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