ONC Chief's Early Years Inform Her Work

Anthony Brino | Healthcare IT News | January 16, 2014

'People should not walk into the emergency department with end-stage disease.'

Karen DeSalvo, MD, has stepped into the role of national coordinator for healthcare information technology at a time when American healthcare is in a state of unprecedented change.

Her resume shows that DeSalvo has the right mix of skills to advance the healthcare system while helping the IT industry create better tools for providers and patients alike.

A practicing internist, she recently led a purchasing committee select a new EHR system. DeSalvo served as the New Orleans public health commissioner until recently, after working at Charity Hospital and Tulane University’s medical school.

DeSalvo’s experience in New Orleans -- such as patients suffering end-stage diseases that could have been prevented or mitigated and the disaster of Hurricane Katrina -- combined with her upbringing, left her with concerns about inequality in access to healthcare and an insufficient medical communications infrastructure.