Mostashari: 'Keep our eyes on the prize'

Farzad Mostashari

Quality the cornerstone of meaningful use

WASHINGTON – The changes taking place in U.S. healthcare as a result of rapid healthcare IT adoption leave the nation's health IT chief Farzad Mostashari optimistic – especially about improving quality, he told the audience at a recent meeting of the National Quality Forum as he urged: "Keep our eyes on the prize."

Quality is the cornerstone of what needs to be done, Mostashari emphasized. "When Congress wrote the HITECH Act, they didn’t micromanage what meaningful use would mean. But they did say, three things needed to be included, and one of them was quality measures."

Mostashari said the adoption rate of health IT over the past few years has been astounding, and it signals a tipping point. He expects adoption to continue forward at a rapid pace. “In 2016, it’s going to be rare to find a doctor without EHRs,” he said.

Contributions from industry leaders are imperative, Mostashari noted. Good ideas can come from people in the field. “We need the bright lights and the perspective and the collaboration because we can’t do it alone,” he said.

In addition to collaboration, Mostashari said stakeholders should focus on what matters. “You start with questions like what kills the most people, and how can we improve to save more premature deaths. It’s astounding how few quality measures we actually have that get to that. It’s because we took our eye off the ball, Mostashari said.

Putting patients at the center should be an independent goal, Mostashari added. “We’re playing catch-up on that right now. Providers should ask themselves if their patients are satisfied with the care they have received. “If the patient doesn’t feel that their care was coordinated, you know what? It wasn’t coordinated.”

Mostashari said there is a lot left to do, but sticking to the principles he outlined will help the healthcare industry get there. He encouraged stakeholders to fight against “the wall of disbelief” that healthcare can’t change. “I’m here to tell you that that wall is paper thin,” he said. “Payment reform is here, and it’s not going away."