New Orleans Health Commissioner Named New National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

City of New Orleans Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo has been named HHS’ new national coordinator for health information technology. She starts Jan. 13.

Dr. ImageDeSalvo, a former professor of medicine and vice dean of community affairs and health policy for Tulane University in New Orleans, 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.  New Orleans was the first city to completely map its’ uninsured population.

In rebuilding the city, New Orleans made the choice to be a place. “We made a choice to go straight to electronic health records when we could, when these new clinics were forming,” she said. “We didn’t have to worry about restructuring workflow or getting rid of legacy systems. We were building from the ground.”

During my term as BioDistrict President, I could always count on Dr. DeSalvo to provide insight on current health trends and a vision for what is possible.

Dr. Jacob Reider has been serving as acting national coordinator since Dr. Farzad Mostashari stepped down from the post in October. Mostashari is now a visiting fellow at the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Washington-based Brookings Institution think tank.

In her e-mail, Sebelius made note of these endeavors. “Dr. DeSalvo’s hands-on experience with health delivery system reform and HIT and its potential to improve healthcare and public health will be invaluable assets to the Office of the National Coordinator and the department,” Sebelius said. “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Jacob Reider, the acting national coordinator for his leadership of ONC during this time of transition.”

At HIMSS, DeSalvo also talked to Modern Healthcare about how technology—such as an application that tracks where children with asthma use their inhalers—can help improve public health. “The opportunity to use data tracking that is both clinically appropriate but also helpful in public health and public policy is where I’d love to see more technology,” she said.

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