Karen DeSalvo – D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Tech 2015

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Karen DeSalvo

National Coordinator for Health IT
Department of Health and Human Services

In the digital age when consumers expect everything on demand, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is directing efforts to advance the nation's health IT. Leading that charge is Karen DeSalvo, the first woman ever appointed national coordinator for health IT.

In addition to advancing the HITECH Act of 2009, which invested $30 billion to promote the use of electronic health records and health information technology, DeSalvo said she's focused on digitizing the care experience and making sure “that every American has access to their electronic health records."

Paramount to all of this is interoperability, “unlocking data that is currently in silos, like electronic health records or other spaces, such that it can be available to paint a picture of a person's health," she said. Earlier this year, ONC released a draft of its nationwide roadmap for interoperability.

That is what I personally believe we're all here for – to improve the lives of everyone around us.

IT is DeSalvo's main focus, but it's part of a bigger picture. “The technology is really a means to an end," she said. “It's really a means to getting to better care and healthier people in this country."

As the first woman to hold her position, DeSalvo advises other women to follow their passion and strive to better the world, no matter the challenges they face.

DeSalvo's challenge was growing up poor. “It was not always fun," she said. “I was really lucky, and I worked hard, and I've had a lot of opportunity. It makes me want to give back so that the world opens up for other young women."

“That is what I personally believe we're all here for – to improve the lives of everyone around us," DeSalvo said.

– Billy Mitchell

Read the full story about this year's selection of D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Technology, and view the full list here.