A former HHS official under the Obama administration has joined Google Health as its first chief health officer, the technology giant confirmed Thursday to Modern Healthcare.
Dr. Karen DeSalvo, who led the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology between 2014 and 2016, marks the second former HHS official Google has scooped up in recent weeks. Late last month Alphabet, Google's parent company, confirmed it had hired former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf to serve as head of strategy and policy for Google Health and Verily Life Sciences.
DeSalvo, like Califf, will start her role at Google Health later this year, a Google spokesperson said.
DeSalvo will report to Dr. David Feinberg, where she will advise Google on its work with providers, according to CNBC, which first reported the news. Her work will cover Google Cloud and Verily, a research subsidiary of Alphabet that's studying the potential for technologies like AI, precision medicine and wearables to improve health outcomes.
Feinberg left his post as CEO and president of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger late last year to lead Google Health.
DeSalvo, who also served as acting assistant secretary for health at HHS during the Obama administration, has spent the past two years as a professor of medicine and population health at the University of Texas at Austin's Dell Medical School.
She resigned from Humana's board of directors, a role she was elected to in 2017, on Tuesday to "avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest in connection with her plan to pursue a new executive opportunity," according to a filing the health insurer submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week.
Alphabet, like many technology companies, has been ramping up its focus on the healthcare market.
Most recently, that's included a consolidation of health efforts across the company's subsidiaries. In September, Google announced that DeepMind, Alphabet's artificial-intelligence arm, had joined the Google Health division. Google Health encompasses many of Alphabet's health efforts, including its research on using AI to diagnose diseases—including cancer—and to predict patient outcomes.