Mostashari announces his departure from public service with a message
Government should play a critical yet limited role in convening and engaging - and, where necessary, setting standards and establishing a floor - for healthcare IT, said Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology, during his remarks as a recent Health IT Policy Committee meeting.
The Aug. 7 comments came the day after he had made public his intentions to step down from four years in public service - first as deputy in the Office of the National Coordinator and then, for the past two years, as the head ONC. He plans to step down this fall.
"Yesterday was very humbling for me, personally, to see the reaction that was largely undeserved but I think shows an appreciation for the progress made in health IT, which I think symbolizes something larger than my departure," he said of the reaction to his intentions.
"The faith remains that we can still do big things in this country," he said. "We've been doing something pretty important and that really matters, and the way in which we do it truly requires a partnership between smart government and the private and non-profit sectors - and that's how we get big things done.
"That's been the work of this committee and the openness with which we've conducted our business up until now has been an essential part of moving in the right direction," he said.
Mostashari admitted that things haven't been perfect.
"We're human; we're not going to be perfect in our policymaking, but we always thought it through with the best intentions and with no other agenda than to get it right."
And many saw fit to praise Mostashari's efforts.
"We appreciate the hard work of Dr. Mostashari in supporting the adoption of electronic health records and working toward our shared vision," said Linda Fishman, senior vice president of policy at the American Hospital Association. "America's hospitals are on a pathway toward a reformed health system that is supported by the use of EHRs."
CHIME's CEO Russell P. Branzell and Board Chairman George T. Hickman issued a statement lauding the fact that Mostashari's leadership brought the nation's providers "through the first gates of measured, meaningful use of electronic health records, and address in reality those initial standards that make our health information portable across the U.S. healthcare system."
"Any CIO will tell you that implementing technology in the face of cultural resistance and process redesign is a monumental challenge," they said. "ONC's task was to help guide such implementations in over 5,000 hospital settings and with nearly 400,000 physicians and clinicians."
"Today's health delivery system is fundamentally different than it was five years ago when HITECH was passed, but it's not because Congress simply passed a law," said Branzell and Hickman's statement. "It's because ONC and CMS, in partnership with the private sector, designed an implementation strategy that tried to align various stakeholders and make the spirit of HITECH a reality."