(Denver) June 29, 2022 — The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) presented its highest achievement award, the Richard L. Clarke Board of Directors Award, to Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, today during HFMA’s annual conference in Denver.
DeSalvo is currently the chief health officer of Google, a position she has held since 2019. In this capacity, she leads a team of health professionals who provide clinical guidance for the development of Google’s research, products and services, and also for Google’s own employees and their family members.
She was formerly U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration. During her time at HHS, DeSalvo focused on creating a more consumer-oriented, transparent and value-based health system.
“Dr. DeSalvo brings deep insights into the key challenges facing our nation’s healthcare system,” said President and CEO Joseph J. Fifer, FHFMA, CPA. “She has been a force for change in both the public and private arenas.”
In an interview with HFMA’s hfm magazine in April 2022, DeSalvo articulated two key health policy issues that emerged during her tenure with HHS. One issue was the underrepresentation of small and rural hospitals and other people on the frontlines of healthcare dealing with practical, real-world problems. The other issue DeSalvo mentioned in the interview relates to social determinants of health. “It took longer than I expected to recognize that healthcare doesn’t own social determinants; I don’t want us to medicalize them. But healthcare is a part of the solution, It really should be multiple parties working toward solutions,” she said.
From 2011-14, DeSalvo served as New Orleans Health Commissioner and Senior Health Policy Advisor. She was instrumental in the effort to reengineer healthcare in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Prior to that role, she was Vice Dean for Community Affairs and Health Policy at the Tulane School of Medicine, where she was a practicing internal medicine physician, educator, researcher and leader.
DeSalvo previously served as a commissioner on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. She is a past president of the Society of General Internal Medicine and past honorary vice president, United States, for the American Public Health Association and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
DeSalvo is a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Population Health at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. She also co-convenes the National Alliance to Impact the Social Determinants of Health and serves on the Council of the National Academy of Medicine.
DeSalvo earned her MD and master’s degree in public health from Tulane University. She also received a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Established in 1964, the Richard L. Clarke Board of Directors Award recognizes individuals who make significant, positive contributions to the profession of healthcare finance or the financing of healthcare services.
The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) equips its more than 87,000 members nationwide to navigate a complex healthcare landscape. Finance professionals in the full range of work settings, including hospitals, health systems, physician practices and health plans, trust HFMA to provide the guidance and tools to help them lead their organizations, and the industry, forward. HFMA is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization that advances healthcare by collaborating with other key stakeholders to address industry challenges and providing guidance, education, practical tools and solutions, and thought leadership. We lead the financial management of healthcare.