DeSalvo will ‘maintain leadership’ at ONC during HHS service


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After news last week that Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT, was asked to join the Department of Health and Human Services as acting assistant secretary of health, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has clarified that she will not completely relinquish the leadership duties of her former post.

While it was initially reported that DeSalvo, who will take her new role under HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to aid in the national health crisis posed by Ebola, would remain in an advisory capacity to Lisa Lewis, who is filling in as the acting national coordinator, an ONC blog post published Tuesday clarifies that she will maintain her leadership responsibilities with the organization.

“Importantly, she will continue to work on high level policy issues at ONC, and ONC will follow the policy direction that she has set,” the post, co-authored by DeSalvo and Lewis, says. “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.”

The blog post also describes more about her new role with HHS: “As a key part of her role and the overall strategy on the HHS Ebola response, she will join the team of trusted experts, reaching out to healthcare providers, other stakeholders and the American public to help implement our preparedness and education efforts.”

Lewis, who served as acting principal deputy national coordinator prior to DeSalvo’s arrival in January and most recently as chief operating officer, will be in charge of day-to-day operations.

The day after DeSalvo announced her departure, ONC Deputy National Coordinator Jacob Reider also announced he will depart the office in November.

The ONC is facing a critical reshuffling. In addition to losing DeSalvo and Reider, the office also recently announced the departures of Judy Murphy, chief nursing officer and director of the Office of Clinical Quality and Safety, to IBM Healthcare Global Business Services and Doug Fridsma, chief scientist.

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Karen DeSalvo, ONC, Tech