- Dr. Karen DeSalvo will step down as National Coordinator for Health IT on August 12.
- She will continue to serve as acting Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS.
- Dr. Vindell Washington, who recently spoke with Healthcare Dive about interoperability, will be the new National Coordinator.
DeSalvo served as National Coordinator since 2014. She was preceded by Dr. Farzad Mostashari, Dr. David Blumenthal, Dr. Robert Kolodner, and Dr. David Brailer.
"Under her leadership, ONC has advanced interoperability across the health system – which underpins progress on a wide range of Department and Administration priorities," wrote HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell in an email to HHS staff. "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."
In 2015, 96% of nonfederal acute care hospitals possessed a certified EHR technology, and 84% adopted at least a basic EHR system — a nine-fold increase over 2008.
In October 2014, DeSalvo took on duties of Assistant Secretary for Health. Burwell in the email noted DeSalvo's work on the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan as well as the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. Under the duties of assistant secretary for health, she launched Public Health 3.0, a population health initiative. "I am deeply grateful to Karen for her leadership and for her incredible service in both of these roles for nearly two years," Burwell wrote.
Dr. Washington became the Principal Deputy National Coordinator at ONC earlier this year and has focused work on the opioid epidemic as well as Precision Medicine. He will continue to lead efforts to leverage health IT to reform how we pay for and deliver care, Burwell noted.
Earlier this year, Washington told Healthcare Dive, "As more and more healthcare providers have adopted the technology, we're really getting to the point of true exchange." He noted the benefits of health data exchange couldn't be discussed until certain points of adoption were reached. "You can't get true value until there's a high amount of information to share that's digital," he said.
He will "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 stated.