In the wake of the announcement of the appointment of Karen DeSalvo, M.D., to the position of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), reactions are emerging across the U.S. healthcare industry. If anyone were well-positioned to comment on the qualifications of Dr. DeSalvo, currently the New Orleans Health Commissioner, it would be Anjum Khurshid, M.D., director of the Health Systems Division at the New Orleans-based Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), and head of the Crescent City Beacon Community initiative.
On Dec. 19, shortly after the news of Dr. DeSalvo’s appointment, HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland obtained an exclusive interview with Dr. Khurshid regarding Dr. DeSalvo’s appointment. Below are excerpts from that interview.
Anjum Khurshid, M.D.
Dr. Khurshid, what is your reaction to the appointment of DeSalvo to the National Coordinator position?
We are delighted in New Orleans for Karen, and also for her organization. And in fact, I just spoke with her this morning; she very graciously called me this morning to let me know, and she herself is very excited. The work that she’s been able to accomplish in New Orleans over a short period of time has been tremendous, and the kind of leadership she’s brought here to the community is a model of efficient, community-based, patient-centered focus. And with her background as a primary care provider, in public health, and in academia, we could not imagine a better person.
This appointment certainly speaks to the collaboration that has been taking place in New Orleans for eight years now.
Yes; New Orleans and Louisiana have been shown to be a center of innovation in health IT, both at the Beacon Community level, and in terms of health information exchange at the state level and in terms of regional extension centers. One example of the collaborative nature of activity in New Orleans and Louisiana came yesterday, when LPHI, Tulane University, and Pennington Biomedical Research at Louisiana State University, were selected to be one of the eleven clinical data research networks for providing the infrastructure for conducting patient-centered outcomes research in the future, by PCORI [the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute]. It’s a $7 million grant; $77 million was given out to 11 centers around the country. And the unique part of that is that while many of these CDRNs—clinical data research networks—selected were established in medical centers or universities, the principal researcher organization in our case is LPHI, emphasizing the focus on community and patients, even in clinical research, which is not the norm. But that’s very much in line with the PCORI goals, of making this more translational and clinical in nature. And Karen, I think, brings that kind of movement towards a focus on outcomes, patients, and communities, rather than a focus on the scientists, the researchers, the hospitals. So we are all very excited about these things, because she comes form a place where she’s had a very good sense of the challenges in the field, and will be able to take that very practical knowledge to Washington, DC.