Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health information technology, will be leaving her technology office position, to be replaced by Vindell Washington, MD, currently serving as the principal deputy national coordinator at ONC.

Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, made the announcement today, indicating that the transition of responsibilities would begin on Friday, August 12.

DeSalvo, who has filled the lead role for two and a half years, will continue to serve as acting assistant secretary for health. Named to that position in late 2014, industry observers long expected that she would gravitate toward the HHS post.

Burwell noted the work DeSalvo had done to advance interoperability in the healthcare industry. “Under her leadership, ONC has advanced interoperability across the health system – which underpins progress on a wide range of Department and Administration priorities,” Burwell said in the formal announcement.

The move will allow DeSalvo to spend more time on critical health issues, Burwell said. Since her appointment to the HHS role, “she has provided critical leadership on the Department’s public health agenda while simultaneously serving as National Coordinator,” Burwell noted.

In naming Washington to the top spot at ONC, Burwell noted his accomplishments thus far. “He has worked closely with leaders throughout the Department on key initiatives, such as Delivery System Reform, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and the opioid crisis,” the announcement noted.

“In his capacity as National Coordinator, Vindell will continue to lead the Administration’s efforts to leverage health information technology to reform how we pay for and deliver care; transform health research and innovation to empower clinicians, individuals and communities to manage their health; and oversee implementation of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap to unlock digital health data.”

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