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Late news, literally: A new national HIT coordinator

Karen DeSalvo, M.D.

 

I’m a little late to the party reporting on the naming of a new national health IT coordinator, Karen DeSalvo, M.D. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced DeSalvo’s appointment on Dec. 19, two days after I boarded a plane out of the country for a much-needed vacation. I vowed not to respond to any work-related e-mail while away, and I stayed true to my word, so now I play catch-up.

I honestly know nothing of DeSalvo’s work as health commissioner of the City of New Orleans and senior health policy advisor to Mayor Mitchell Landrieu, even though I visited New Orleans twice in the early rebuilding stages after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and 2007 to report on the state of the healthcare infrastructure. At the time, Ray Nagin was mayor, though Landrieu was Louisiana lieutenant gove

rnor and his sister, Mary, was and still is a U.S. senator representing the Pelican State.

During my visits, I met with several state and local healthcare officials, but never came across DeSalvo. She is the first national coordinator I did not know prior to taking over ONC, so I guess I’ll be doing some catch-up. From her biography, I see her background is in public health, much like her predecessor, Farzad Mostashari, M.D. That signals to me that there will be a continued strong focus on using IT to improve population health, one of the original 2004 goals of the first national coordinator, David Brailer, M.D.

While Stage 1 of Meaningful Use has been about installing EHRs, we should start to see connectivity and interoperability to help manage populations in Stage 2, which is just getting started, with an eye toward producing measurable outcomes in Stage 3, which probably won’t begin before 2017.

DeSalvo remains in New Orleans at the moment. She takes over at ONC Jan. 13. Acting national coordinator Jacob Reider, M.D., will go back to being ONC’s chief medical officer.

December 30, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

I was wrong: Muntz to leave ONC

On Sept. 17, I predicted that Principal Deputy National Coordinator David Muntz would lead the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at least on an interim or acting basis when National Coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari departs at the end of next week.

I was wrong.

Last night, Muntz announced his resignation in an e-mail to ONC staff:

From: Muntz, David (OS/ONC)
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:47 PM
Subject: Farewell to my federal family and friends

It is with a great deal of gratitude and sadness I have tendered my resignation as Principal Deputy National Coordinator for Health IT.   All of the ONC staff and, for that matter, all of the federal staff with whom I worked, have been more than patient and generous as I entered the world of federal public service.

The goals and objectives of our diverse and important activities helped me understand and accept the challenges, and then embrace them.  I was sustained by the spirit and talent that I encountered every step along the way.  You’ve heard me say on several occasions that I’ve never seen such a group of dedicated leaders and staff.  It is heartwarming and head-pleasing to have worked with all of the federal staff and to represent the providers and patients in the private and public sector who are pulling and pushing us toward a very promising future where the collective efforts will benefit the nation and the world.  The people and the progress are awe inspiring.  It’s been a privilege to have played any role in such a truly transformative era, much less a leadership role in all the successes we have achieved both inside and outside ONC.

I look forward to continuing to support HHS’ vision of achieving interoperability and better engaging patients from the private sector.  With many wonderful memories and much gratitude, David

David S. Muntz, CHCIO, FCHIME, LCHIME, FHIMSS

Principal Deputy

HHS/Office of the National Coordinator

Also last night, Mostashari announced that Dr. Jacob Reider, director of the ONC Office of the Chief Medical Officer, will serve as acting national coordinator and Lisa Lewis, currently deputy national coordinator for operations, will be acting principal deputy, effective Oct. 4. Joy Pritts will remain as chief privacy officer and political appointee, Mostashari noted.

Mostashari also said that Muntz informed him “several weeks ago of his decision to return to the private sector to work more closely on the front-lines of medicine.”

I shall not make any further predictions about next full-time coordinator.

September 26, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.