HHS appoints new ONC chief

By Erin McCann
12:07 PM
Share
HHS names Karen DeSalvo new ONC chief

New Orleans Health Commissioner Karen DeSalvo, MD, will take over as national coordinator for health information technology, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced this morning.

Sebelius made the announcement Thursday in a memo sent out to staff members. DeSalvo will be replacing Acting Coordinator Jacob Reider, MD, who assumed the role just this November after Farzad Mostashari, MD, announced he would be stepping down from his post. DeSalvo will take over the reins of ONC Jan. 13.

[See also: Changing of the ONC guard.]

DeSalvo is credited with spearheading efforts to rebuild the public health infrastructure in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. She has also served as president of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum and as a member of the Steering Committee for the Crescent City Beacon Community grant. She is the first woman to serve as ONC chief.

"DeSalvo has advocated increasing the use of health information technology to improve access to care, the quality of care and overall population health outcomes – including efforts post-Katrina to redesign the health system with HIT as a foundational element," wrote Sebelius in the Dec. 19 staff announcement. "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."

Reider also applauded the decision to appoint DeSalvo.

"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 healthcare system nationwide," he wrote in a memo to ONC staff. "I have been honored to serve as your acting national coordinator. Every minute has been inspiring, educational and energizing."

Reider will be returning to his previous role as ONC's chief medical officer.