National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, MD, has stepped down as chair of the HIT Policy Committee in an effort to reinforce the committee’s advisory role and better serve its mission.

DeSalvo is separating herself from leadership of the committee because is tasked with making recommendations to her as the National Coordinator for HIT. She announced at Tuesday’s joint meeting of the HIT Policy and Standards Committees that its charter has been restructured to reflect the change.

“We made a decision to transition this [panel] to be more truly an advisory committee to the National Coordinator, and rather than having me chair the meetings, to have co-chairs,” said DeSalvo, who added that she will remain engaged. “This sets up a structure for advisory that works into the future.”

Kathleen Blake, MD, vice president of performance improvement at the American Medical Association, will serve as co-chair of the policy committee with Paul Tang, MD, who previously served as vice chair under DeSalvo.

At the AMA, Blake oversees the organization’s clinical quality initiatives and the development and testing of electronic clinical quality measures.

Tang also shared some personal news with the federal advisory committee during the April 19 meeting—earlier this month, he joined IBM Watson Health as vice president and chief health transformation officer.

“As you know, throughout my professional career, I have been dedicated to applying health information technologies to improve health and healthcare,” said Tang in reply to a query from Health Data Management.. “My role at IBM is to harness the technologies and capabilities of Watson Health to do just that.

“How can we apply cognitive computing and big data analytics to improve the health of an individual and of whole communities? It’s really about bringing all that data and all that computing power to benefit health,” he added. “That’s why my position is ‘health transformation officer.’ IBM Watson Health has incredible scale and strategic partnerships that can help realize that vision.”

In addition to his duties at IBM, Tang said he will continue to see patients at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, where he previously served as its chief innovation and technology officer. He has been heavily involved in various federal panels, including serving as chair of the Advanced Health Models and Meaningful Use committee, a member of the Health IT Strategy and Innovation committee and chair of the Clinical, Technical, Organizational and Financial Barriers to Interoperability task force.

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