Practice Economics

New health IT czar takes over in January


Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo has been tapped to become the federal government’s next national coordinator for health information technology, the Health and Human Services Department announced.

Dr. DeSalvo, who helped modernize the New Orleans health care infrastructure after Hurricane Katrina, will play a central role in setting policy around the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs, which include "meaningful use" requirements for the use of health IT.

Her first day in the new post will be Jan. 13.

Dr. Karen DeSalvo

"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 [Health and Human Services] department," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an e-mail to ONC staff on Dec. 19.

Dr. DeSalvo, an internist, also currently serves as a senior health policy adviser to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Over the course of her career, she has been an advocate for increasing the use of health IT in primary care and public health, and as part of emergency preparedness efforts. She has also led the planning of the city’s new public hospital, which includes a fully integrated health IT network.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society praised Dr. DeSalvo for her "deep understanding of the value of informatics, as well as the challenges and promise of interoperability."

Dr. DeSalvo replaces Dr. Jacob Reider, the acting national coordinator, who will return to his former role as chief medical officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. Dr. Reider took over the top job in the fall, after the departure of Dr. Farzad Mostashari.

On Twitter @MaryEllenNY

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