Dr. Karen DeSalvo is a physician who has focused her career toward improving access to affordable, high quality care for all people with a focus on vulnerable populations and to improving overall health. She has done this through direct patient care, medical education, policy and administrative roles, as a researcher, and in public service. As the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, she is leading the nation's charge to adopt and meaningfully use health information technology, and collectively achieve health information technology interoperability, as a core foundational element of better care, at a lower cost, and better health for everyone in America.
Before joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, she was Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans, and New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu's Senior Health Policy Advisor. While there she transformed the outmoded health department, one that has since achieved national accreditation, and restored health care to devastated areas of the city, including leading the establishment of a public hospital. Prior to joining the Mayor's administration, Dr. DeSalvo was a professor of medicine and vice dean for community affairs and health policy at Tulane University School of Medicine.
A physician with training and experience in internal medicine and public health, following Hurricane Katrina, she was a leader in building an innovative and award-winning model of neighborhood-based primary care and mental health services for low-income, uninsured and other vulnerable individuals that boosts a sophisticated health IT infrastructure.
Dr. DeSalvo served as president of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum, the state's lead for the health information exchange, and the National Association of Chiefs of General Internal Medicine. She has served on the boards of the National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Society of General Internal Medicine.
Dr. DeSalvo was recognized as a "Woman of Excellence in Health Care" by the Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus. In 2013, Governing Magazine named Dr. DeSalvo one of nine Public Officials of the Year. The American Medical Student Association recognized her with a Women's Leader Award in 2014. Modern Healthcare named her one of the 50 most influential physician executives in 2014.
She earned her Medical Doctorate and Master's in Public Health from Tulane University, and Master's in Clinical Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health. She has an honorary doctorate from her alumnus institution, Suffolk University.