ONC Head DeSalvo Leaving to Support Ebola Response Efforts

This article was updated on October, 29.

The National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, has been named the Department of Health and Human Services’ acting assistant secretary for health to become part of the Obama administration’s Ebola response effort.

DeSalvo, who will step down as head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) but still continue to support the agency, will join the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) effective immediately. Lisa Lewis has been named as ONC’s acting national coordinator in the interim, also effective immediately.

According to an ONC spokesman, HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell tapped DeSalvo for the role.

“In this role she [DeSalvo] will work with the secretary on pressing public health issues, including becoming a part of the department’s team responding to Ebola,” said ONC spokesman Peter Ashkenaz.. “Dr. DeSalvo has deep roots and a belief in public health and its critical value in assuring the health of everyone, not only in crisis, but every day.”

On the ONC’s blog, HealthIT Buzz, it clarified DeSalvo’s duties with ONC and ASH. In her new role, according to the post, DeSalvo will serve as acting ASH while maintaining her leadership of ONC. “Importantly, 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,” the post stated.

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