Q&A: Karen DeSalvo on Meaningful Use, ONC Reorg

Scott Mace, June 10, 2014

HLM: How does your newly announced ONC restructuring work? I heard the phrase that you were moving from healthcare to health. What is this restructuring about, and how does that relate to that concept?

DeSalvo: A couple things. First of all, the timing is important for us to think about a more efficient organization. We're reshaping based upon resources available and thinking about how we can be more efficient and effective with the resources we have, so that pivot into the next decade is part of this new chapter.

The second thing is, we're really focused and tuned into the notion that health IT is more than electronic health records, and more than meaningful use. It is about building a robust health IT infrastructure that can support again not just healthcare, but health.

What does that mean? That means for our country, we have a national priority of better health, lower cost, better care, that three-part aim. To get there, it's much more than just the healthcare system. It's a part of it, but we want to build the right kind of robust health IT infrastructure that is inclusive beyond meaningful use, so beyond providers that are part of the meaningful use program – that's one piece.

So behavioral health, long-term post-acute care—it's expanding that. And then expanding the platform of interoperability, such that there is a chance for data, whether it's big data like genomics… all the way to patient-generated outcomes, to be a part of that overall thinking, but then a whole host of other sources.

For example, [data may include] information about those aging populations, and social services programs that might serve them, or for populations for feeding programs, like WIC and SNAP, to be included, so this is a broader view on the kinds of data that might come in, and the opportunity to put it to good use.

HLM: And part of the restructuring is a move towards care transformations? I guess you now have an office of chief scientist. Why did you do those things?

DeSalvo: We've had a few name changes, putting some structure on work we were doing, so care transformation is a great example. We have been partnering with CMS through both the innovation portfolio, the Medicare work, and Medicaid work, to help drive the movement towards value-based purchasing, price transparency, quality measurement.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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