Posted on September 3, 2015

Innovator in Health: Karen DeSalvo

Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSC, one of NEHI’s 2015 Innovators in Health


Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc

Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSC is recognized as one of NEHI’s 2015 Innovators in Health for her work in health information technology and improving access to health care for all. Her remarkable career of accomplishments includes leading in a new era of electronic medical records and health information technology (HIT) and rebuilding public health care infrastructure in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. She has also worked in every aspect of health care delivery including direct patient care, medical education, health policy, research and public service.

With all these accomplishments, here are 5 reasons (among many) that Dr. Karen DeSalvo is a 2015 Innovator in Health:

  1. She has long been an advocate of interoperability and making meaningful use actually meaningful. And, as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, she has worked tirelessly with stakeholders to ensure that data can be “unlocked” for better public health and patient care.
  2. She was tapped to help the emergency response to the Ebola outbreak last year, and quickly took leadership using her background in both HIT and public health to help the U.S. develop an appropriate response.
  3. She transformed New Orleans public health system into a nationally recognized model in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. During her time in New Orleans, Dr. DeSalvo was a leader in building an innovative and award-winning model of neighborhood-based primary care and mental health services for low-income, uninsured and other vulnerable individuals that boasts a sophisticated health IT infrastructure.
  4. She’s taking a new approach to public health. As she says “The traditional role of public health departments at any level of government is changing. It’s moving out of a direct-delivery service model and into a broader focus on the population’s health and public health about those highly important, winnable battles with chronic diseases and the causes thereof, like obesity and smoking, but also some of the challenges in healthcare access and disparities in care.”

She has been recognized as a national leader by many, including: Governing Magazine named her one of nine Public Officials of the year (2013), the American Student Medical Association awarded her a Women’s Leader award (2014) and Modern Healthcare named her one of the 50 most influential physician executives (2014).

Find out more about our Innovators in Health Awards Dinner, October 7, 2015 in Boston!

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