January 15, 2014 | By Dan Bowman


National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo has wasted no time sharing her thoughts on the direction of ONC’s work under her tenure. At Tuesday’s Health IT Policy Committee meeting, DeSalvo, one day after taking office, said she believes ONC’s next phase will focus on harnessing health IT for, among other things, population health.

“That is the major next chapter that we must undertake as part of the President’s major domestic policy initiative,” DeSalvo said. “[T]o see the promise of health information technology in the clinical interface for the health systems and the population and community at large to come to fruition.”

The new ONC head added that she would like to see “real improvements” in health over time that could help with things like preparedness in the face of disasters. DeSalvo, of course, served as health commissioner for the City of New Orleans, where she helped to establish health IT infrastructure in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She also previously served as president of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum, taking the lead on efforts to secure health information exchange and regional extension center grant funding.

DeSalvo added that even though she’s “not a content expert,” she understands the promise health IT holds in terms of boosting care delivery reform.

ONC Chief Medical Officer and former Acting National Coordinator Jacob Reider called her “a perfect fit” at the agency in an email to staff upon announcement of her hiring last month. Former National Coordinator Farzad Mostashari echoed those sentiments, tweeting out that she “understands healthcare from the front lines,” shortly after her hiring.

“I am inspired and excited by the work that is happening,” DeSalvo said. “I am looking forward to being part of healthcare reform around delivery and seeing all the ways that we can apply technology to make peoples’ lives better.”

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