DeSalvo to juggle ONC, Ebola work

October 28, 2014 in Medical Technology

When Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell snagged national coordinator Karen DeSalvo to help in the Ebola fight, neither entity said whether DeSalvo would return to ONC or stay on as acting assistant secretary at HHS over the long term.

With  the American Medical Association suggesting in statement on Tuesday that the ONC “leadership gap” might hinder interoperability and meaningful use work, ONC revealed a bit more in a blog post on the same day..

[See also: AMA worried about ONC ‘gap’.]

DeSalvo will serve as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health “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,” according to a post on the HealthIT Buzz blog.

DeSalvo, in fact, will continue to chair the Health IT Policy Committee and, as such, keep alive her work driving development of the eagerly-anticipated 10-year interoperability roadmap. In addition to staying involved in meaningful use policymaking, DeSalvo will still co-chair the cross-departmental work on delivery system reform.

[See also: DeSalvo drafted to tackle Ebola ]

But Lisa Lewis, ONC’s COO, will take over day-to-day leadership of ONC. Lewis, ONC explained, was acting principal deputy national coordinator prior to DeSalvo taking the helm in January, 2014.

“Most importantly, the team that is ONC is far more than one or two leaders. The team of ONC is personified in each and every individual — all part of a steady ship and a strong and important part of HHS’ path toward delivery system reform and overall health improvement.”

ONC stopped short of stating for certain that DeSalvo would return to the national coordinator post at some point in time, or not. 

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