Vindell Washington, MD., has now stepped in as the National Coordinator for Health IT at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). Washington has previously worked as the Principal Deputy National Coordinator before taking up the position of National Coordinator.
Karen DeSalvo, MD., the previous National Coordinator, is currently holding the position of Acting Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) since 2010. She stated that she is planning to retain the position until the end of President Obama’s term. DeSalvo is also planning to dedicate her entire focus to ASH responsibilities by stepping down from the ONC position.
Washington has played a great part in the White House Precision Medicine initiative and in the efforts by the health department to address opioid addiction epidemic. He will now have to act as the top federal official and oversee the national health IT strategy, which includes Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) criteria and interoperability.
Washington also held the leadership position in numerous health systems before joining the ONC. The recent leadership positions held by Washington were as the President of the Baton Rouge-based Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS) Medical Group and as the Chief Medical Information Officer of Health system.
Secretary Sylvia Burwell stated that DeSalvo would step down from the role of National Coordinator, but she will continue to serve in ASH. “During her tenure, ONC has worked with other federal partners and the private sector to update the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and develop a Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, both of which chart a person-centered path for improving health outcomes by unlocking health data through tools like open application programming interfaces,” Burwell said.
“DeSalvo has also co-chaired the Department’s Delivery System Reform efforts, which set historic goals and worked to leverage the resources of the Department to build a more person-centered health system that encourages more coordinated care,” she added.
Speaking to the media, DeSalvo said, “There is really no one I can imagine I would feel more thrilled about handing over the role of National Coordinator to than Vindell Washington. He is a thoughtful, brilliant, passionate and extremely capable leader. In his time here, it has been clear to me that he shares our values and has the same trust and admiration for the ONC team that I have.”
“I have come to rely upon him and look forward to watching his leadership continue to unfold. I have every confidence in his ability and drive to steward our critical work in to the next chapter,” she added.