ONC Walks Back Announcement that Dr. Karen DeSalvo Is Leaving the Organization

Dr. Karen DeSalvo

In a blog post “written” by Dr. Karen DeSalvo (in which she refers to herself in the third person) on ONC’s Health IT Buzz blog, the national coordinator for health IT announced that she’s actually not leaving her leadership roll there to become Acting Assistant Secretary of Health even though on October 23 it was announced she was doing so.

Walking back that announcement, DeSalvo announced that she’ll be maintaining her leadership role at ONC while also serving serve as Acting Assistant Secretary of Health to battle Ebola. According to “her” blog post, she will continue to work on high-level policy issues at ONC, and ONC will follow the policy direction that she has set. “She will remain the chair of the Health IT Policy Committee; she will continue to lead on the development and finalization of the Interoperability Roadmap; and she will remain involved in meaningful use policymaking.  She will also continue to co-chair the HHS cross-departmental work on delivery system reform. “

Lisa Lewis will keep DeSalvo’s seat warm in the interim, providing day-to-day leadership at ONC. Lewis served as Acting Principal Deputy National Coordinator before Dr. DeSalvo joined ONC.

In addition, as has been noted in a number of other publications, the ONC announcement likely comes as a result of concern over an exodus of leadership at the organization. The post goes on to pat a few ONC employees on the back for their leadership skills and work.

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Karen DeSalvo Leaving ONC Immediately to Battle Ebola

Karen DeSalvo

As has been much reported, national coordinator for health IT, Karen DeSalvo, M.D., is leaving the office effective immediately to become acting assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The announcement was made Oct. 26, 2014, by HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Burwell requested that DeSalvo to make the move in an effort to help battle and lead to containment of the Ebola crisis. DeSalvo will serve as acting assistant secretary until the Senate confirms an assistant secretary. There is no pending individual nominated for the permanent position.

Lisa Lewis, the ONC’s chief operating officer, now will serve as the acting national coordinator at ONC.

According to Modern Healthcare: HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, in a notice to her staff, welcomed DeSalvo, saying, “As the acting assistant secretary for health, Karen’s experience as a practicing physician, a senior member of the HHS team, and as a nationally recognized leader in public health, will be invaluable to the department and me.”

“She will bring her knowledge and real-world experience to bear on some of the most important issues confronting our department, especially our Ebola response efforts,” Burwell said.

DeSalvo was appointed in December 2013 and started in mid-January 2014. She took over after the departure of former national coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari who stepped down in October 2013.

To date, she’s the shortest serving ONC national coordinator, if she’s leaving the position permanently, which has not been verified.

ONC Names New Chief: Karen DeSalvo, MD

Dr. Karen DeSalvo
Dr. Karen DeSalvo

As you’ve likely heard, ONC has named has its next leader, city of New Orleans Health Commissioner and senior health policy advisor Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc.

She takes the post January 13, 2014.

DeSalvo is a former professor of medicine and vice dean of community affairs and health policy for Tulane University in New Orleans, according to Modern Healthcare. She led the effort to establish a network of primary-care medical homes as part of the city’s post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding process. She also served as president of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum.

She will take over the role currently held by Acting National Coordinator Jacob Reider, MD, who is filling in for the departed Dr. Farzad Mostashari.

Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s announced the move to HHS staff today (text here courtesy of EHR Intelligence):

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.

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