Google hires Karen DeSalvo as new chief health officer

The former National Coordinator will pioneer the new role at the tech giant, which has signed on several high-profile healthcare leaders as it sets its sights on the market.
By Mike Miliard
11:21 AM
Google hires former Karen DeSalvo as chief health officer

The former National Coordinator will pioneer the new role at the tech giant, which has signed on several high-profile healthcare leaders as it sets its sights on the market.

For its most recent big healthcare hire, Google has recruited former National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Karen DeSalvo to serve as its first chief health officer.

WHY IT MATTERS
The move, first reported by CNBC, is further evidence, as if more were needed, that the Mountain View, California-based technology titan is serious about its ambitions to disrupt the healthcare market.

Earlier this month, Google parent company Alphabet hired former FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf – who, like DeSalvo, served during the Obama administration – to be the new head of strategy and policy for Verily Life Sciences and Google Health.

And about this time last year, Google tapped Dr. David Feinberg, who had served as CEO of world-class health system Geisinger, to help it develop and expand its healthcare strategy, organizing the various initiatives of Alphabet companies such as Verily, DeepMind and Google Cloud.

DeSalvo will report to Feinberg and will be tasked, among other things, with offering advice and perspective about clinician experience, according to CNBC.

THE LARGER TREND
DeSalvo served as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology from 2014 to 2016 and U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health from 2014 to 2017.

During her two-and-a-half year stint as ONC chief, she led a series of successful projects related to EHR certification for the meaningful use program, interoperability advancements, patient access initiatives and more.

Since her time in the federal government, DeSalvo has kept her CV well-updated with a series of high-profile jobs. In late 2017, she joined the faculty at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, with professorships in both the Department of Internal Medicine and in the Department of Population Health.

In March 2018, she was elected president of the Society of General Internal Medicine.

She also joined Leavitt Partners, the consulting firm founded by former HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, as a senior advisor.

A longtime leader in public policy, population health, social determinants and patient engagement, DeSalvo was commissioner of health for the city of New Orleans – where she helped to digitize the city's health IT infrastructure after Hurricane Katrina – before being appointed by President Obama to lead ONC.

ON THE RECORD
On Twitter, many of DeSalvo's health industry colleagues applauded the move:

"I am thrilled to join this great team and excited about the opportunity for impact on health," DeSalvo tweeted in response.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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