Dr Karen B. DeSalvo Steps Down as ONC Head, Dr Vindell Washington to Take Over

Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, the national coordinator for health information technology, will be relinquishing the position on August 12. HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell sent an e-mail to HHS staff to announce the change.

Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, the national coordinator for health information technology (IT), will be relinquishing the position on August 12. HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell sent an e-mail to HHS staff to announce the change.

During the height of the Ebola crisis, DeSalvo had been named the acting assistant secretary for health (ASH), at which time news circulated that she was leaving the position in the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). Instead, DeSalvo stayed on in her position at ONC and began taking on the duties as ASH.

“Under her leadership, ONC has advanced interoperability across the health system — which underpins progress on a wide range of Department and Administration priorities,” Burwell wrote. “She has also made significant advances to the Health Information Technology Certification Program to promote and expand the safe and secure flow of electronic health information when and where it matters most for individuals and clinicians.”

As head of ONC, DeSalvo updated the Federal Health IT Strategic plan and developed a Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap.

In a 2014 video interview with The American Journal of Managed Care, DeSalvo discussed the promise and power of health IT for monitoring chronic diseases and improving emergency preparedness.

Vindell Washington, MD, MHCM, FACEP, who was named principal deputy national coordinator at the beginning of 2016, will step in as the new national coordinator.

“In his capacity as National Coordinator, Vindell will continue to lead the Administration’s efforts to leverage health information technology to reform how we pay for and deliver care; transform health research and innovation to empower clinicians, individuals and communities to manage their health; and oversee implementation of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap to unlock digital health data and ensure it is widely accessible, usable, and transferable throughout the public and private sectors,” Burwell wrote.