Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dr. Karen DeSalvo Named National Coordinator for Health IT

Dr. Farzad Mostashari tipped me off to the interesting video below:

Dr. Karen DeSalvo at the 2012 ONC Annual Meeting

Below is a note from Secretary Sebelius to HHS staff, followed by a note from Dr. Reider to ONC staff.


I would like to announce that Dr. Karen DeSalvo, who currently serves as the City of New Orleans Health Commissioner and Senior Health Policy Advisor to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, will be the next National Coordinator for Health Information Technology here at the Department.

During her tenure, Dr. DeSalvo has been at the forefront of efforts to modernize the New Orleans health care system. Following Hurricane Katrina, for example, she led projects to increase access to care by augmenting the city’s neighborhood-based medical homes for low income, uninsured and other vulnerable populations in the New Orleans area.

Throughout her career, Dr. DeSalvo has advocated increasing the use of health information technology (HIT) to improve access to care, the quality of care, and overall population health outcomes –including efforts post-Katrina to redesign of the health system with HIT as a foundational element. She served as President of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum, the Louisiana lead for their health information exchange and regional extension center grants. She has also served as a member of the Steering Committee for the Crescent City Beacon Community grant.

As the New Orleans Health Commissioner she has made the increased utilization of HIT a cornerstone of the city’s primary care efforts and a key part of the city’s policy development, public health initiatives and emergency preparedness. Further, she has led the planning and construction of the city’s newest public hospital, which will have a fully-integrated HIT network. Her work as commissioner has led to positive changes to the way healthcare providers deliver care to their patients, improved accessibility and outcomes for patients, and improved the health of all New Orleanians. Dr. DeSalvo is a graduate of Suffolk University, Tulane Schools of Medicine and Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. DeSalvo’s hands-on experience with health delivery system reform and HIT and its potential to improve health care and public health will be invaluable assets to the Office of the National Coordinator and the Department. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Jacob Reider, the Acting National Coordinator for his leadership of ONC during this time of transition. I am pleased she is joining our committed team, and ask you to join me in welcoming her to HHS when she starts on Monday, January 13th.


Kathleen Sebelius

ONC Colleagues:

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Karen DeSalvo as our National Coordinator. Karen is presently the Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans and is well experienced in health care and Health IT. Some of you know her through her work with the Crescent City Beacon Community in New Orleans, one of our national leaders in applying health IT to creatively solve challenging problems in care delivery. In addition to her connections to Crescent City, she has deep knowledge and experience in health policy, medical education, and public health. Her experience is a perfect fit for ONC’s role of using health IT to improve the health care system nationwide. I am certain that she will appreciate all the hard work that you have already accomplished to achieve the three-part aim.

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind for us here at ONC. Our transition began with the new fiscal year, budget challenges and the partial federal shutdown. None of this has stopped the work we have underway. None of this has diluted our passion, our energy, or our persistent optimism that this work will change our nation for the better. None of this has distracted us from our core mission – and our continued focus on ONC’s “5+1” guiding principles:

1. Open, transparent, inclusive decision-making

2. Eye on the prize

3. Feet on the ground

4. Use the market and foster innovation

5. Open to all (watch out for the little folks)

+1: Place the patient (and their interests) in the center of everything we do

I have been honored to serve as your Acting National Coordinator. Every minute has been inspiring, educational, and energizing. Both Lisa and I appreciate all of the support each and every one of you have given us and will give to Karen. The work of “team ONC" is a product of every team member contributing as much as we can toward our shared goals. As the baseball fans among you may recall, David Murphy, an outfielder for the Texas Rangers, was called upon to pitch in a game against the Red Sox last Summer. Like Murphy’s experience, our success has been a product of the team’s hard work and support rather than my personal achievements as your leader. As my tenure as your National Coordinator is now drawing to a close, I will return to the outfield where I am proud to serve as your Chief Medical Officer, and continue to work hard with you. We have a great team, great mission-driven people, and an incredible opportunity to change our world for the better.

I am certain you will share my enthusiasm for Karen’s appointment as you all get to meet and work with her. 2014 will be an incredible next chapter in ONC’s history and one that we should all be looking forward to. I hope that everyone has a great holiday season.


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