DeSalvo unveils plan to transition ONC to 'less siloed' workgroups

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo believes it's time to shake things up a little at the ONC.

At the April 8 meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee, DeSalvo talked about ONC's priorities moving beyond Meaningful Use; in particular, she laid out plans for transitioning the agency's current workgroups into newer, "less siloed" workgroups.

"This seems like a good time to make some form and function adjustments to the policy committee and the workgroups," DeSalvo said. "We are pivoting to readjust to our smaller budgets and perhaps, over time, changes to the structure of our agency. We need to be very thoughtful about what are the core expectations from the American people about what we should focus on and do."

Four workgroups proposed by DeSalvo in a presentation to the committee would focus on:

  • Health IT strategic planning
  • Advanced health models and Meaningful Use
  • Health IT implementation, usability and safety
  • Interoperability and health information exchange

Privacy and security and consumer engagement workgroups will continue operation, according to DeSalvo, who said discussions will take place in more of an overlapping, matrix-like manner.

ONC's overarching priorities, DeSalvo said, would focus on the agency serving in more of a policy and coordinator function. She said that ONC will set a very high priority on health information exchange use and infrastructure, and will continue to work to reduce redundancy and reactive work in federal efforts.

"We want to be as strategic and forward thinking as possible," she said.

While DeSalvo called her outline of the groups a "strawman" that can be adjusted, she said she hopes to begin workgroup transitions in May, with efforts continuing into the summer. "The sooner we can get these thoughts on paper and get this finalized, the sooner we can move forward," she said.

Added DeSalvo: "The sector is really growing, but without the nervous system of our healthcare infrastructure continuing to be more vital and robust and sustainable, we're not going to be able to fulfill the promise of improving care, lower costs and improving health."

To learn more:
- here's DeSalvo's presentation (.pdf)

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