Mostashari mindful of HIT stakeholder tension

By Diana Manos
10:10 AM

At the Health IT Policy Committee meeting Wednesday morning, Farzad Mostashari, MD, the new national coordinator for health information technology, said he will listen attentively to stakeholder interests and is aware of the tensions among them. However, his first objective will be the public interest.

In addition to his national coordinator role, Mostashari will serve as chair of the HIT Policy Committee, an advisory group to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which meets once amonth. Like his predecessor, David Blumenthal, MD, his leadership of this committee, in particular, will provide a catalyst for much of the activity the government plans for health IT.

"David is a tough act to follow," Mostashari said, in some of his first public comments following his appointment last Friday. He added that Blumenthal had a broad range of support and unique skills that helped to move the federal HIT agenda to the next level.

"I'm not David Blumenthal, but I will do my best and will continue down the path he has set," Mostashari said.

[See also: Mostashari takes reins of ONC amid praise.]

Mostashari said he will strive to continue Blumenthal's "very attentive, inclusive process of listening." He plans to listen to stakeholders and is aware of their sometimes conflicting interests, yet he will keep the public in mind first: "I think listening yields the best product for the public interest."

He urged better communication between providers, frontline staff and consumers. "We will work harder to be good communicators of our vision and what it will mean for you," he said.

ONC plans to continue to work with the market and tap into the innovation and energy of the private sector, "even as we work to make a more perfect market around transparency," Mostashari said.

"We need to understand better what's happening in the industry and the market, and this will be a continued part of our agenda," he said. "And, we have to continue to watch out for the little guy. The market doesn't look out for the little guy – that will have to be the role of government."

Mostashari said he plans to "double down" on several aspects of federal HIT advancement policy already underway, including:

  • Intensifying "boots on the ground" and implementation of health IT
  • Providing opportunities for learning about HIT advancement, without having to centralize
  • Improving decision-making on population health.

Mostashari told the committee to keep their eye on the prize. The health delivery system is aligning on an unprecedented level, he said. Healthcare is becoming focused on improving population health – not just with electronic health records – but with coordination of care.

The recently released Accountable Care Organization proposed rule focuses on meaningful use of EHRs, Mostashari said. This is not accidental. "Quite consciously at the federal level, there is an understanding that these go together," he said.

"We need to be aligning and coordinating our work in the service of the broader national health goals encapsulated in the national quality strategy," Mostashari added.

"It's an incredibly exciting time because finally the stars are aligned," he said. Health IT will help improve population health, encouraged by payment incentives.

[See related story: ACOs and meaningful use to go hand in hand.]

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