Dell Medical School adds former ONC director Karen DeSalvo, bolstering its focus on health IT

The skyline of Austin, Texas over the Colorado River
Former ONC chief Karen DeSalvo, M.D., joins a growing list of health IT experts at the University of Texas at Austin. (SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Karen DeSalvo, M.D., who previously served as the federal government's chief health IT officer, is heading to the University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin.

DeSalvo led the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT from 2014 to 2016 along with a concurrent role as the acting assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. She will serve as a professor in the Division of Primary Care and Value-Based Health, with a primary appointment in the Department of Internal Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Population Health.

She will aim to leverage technology and digital health to improve public health programs and focus on medical research involving social determinants of health, according to an announcement from the school.

“As a brand-new institution, [Dell Medical School] has a unique opportunity to design an educational, clinical and community approach to health,” DeSalvo said a release. “The innovation that’s happening here is exciting, and I look forward to joining the dynamic and distinguished team of leaders.”

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The former national coordinator joins an institution that has been quietly recruiting some of the biggest names in health IT under the leadership of Clay Johnston, M.D., who has emphasized the importance of health data and digital health tools.

Earlier this year, Dell recruited former Cleveland Clinic CIO C. Martin Harris to serve as the associate vice president of health enterprise and the school’s chief business officer. The school’s leadership team also includes Maninder “Mini” Kahlon, Ph.D., who previously served as CIO for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, and Stacey Chang, formerly the managing director of healthcare at the design and innovation firm IDEO.