Mostashari proud of progress so far
National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, MD, told members of the Health IT Policy Committee on Tuesday to remain steadfast, bask in the progress made over the past four years, but continue to "react and respond to the world as it is, while striving to make the world as it should be."
The July 9 meeting marked the 50th meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee, and Mostashari’s fourth year in government service.
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"It’s remarkable to look back at where we were four years ago and take stock, measured through these meetings, how far we have come and what the complexity of the policy issues that we’ve had to consider as we reach toward our goals – and to hold those goals to better health, better care and lower costs firmly in mind," he said.
Mostashari said it’s important to reflect on the milestones, "making sure we look at the data, learn from the data, to see what’s working, where there are pockets, what are the emerging issues and trends and what do we need to do to adapt and adjust our policies our implementations and our actions as we get there."
Sometimes policymakers and implementers get lost in "the day-to-day, week-to-week struggle," and forget to step back and take a look at the "broad sweep," he said. Mostashari reminded committee members that, just four years ago, 90 percent of hospital patient records, 80 percent of physicians’ patient records and 93 percent of prescriptions were written on paper.
Electronic health records four years ago couldn’t make lists for physicians of the patients who had diabetes, measure quality, share information, and they couldn’t provide a patient with an electronic copy of their medical record.
"The fax machine ruled; if patients wanted access to their records, it was 75 cents a page and 30 days," said Mostashari.
“We haven’t slain all those dragons just yet, but we sure have made a dent," he added.
Digitization – the bringing of data to life around the critical work in population management – has been the key, said Mostashari. Healthcare providers, as a whole, are beginning to focus on changing population health, something that "simply cannot be done" with paper-based medical records.
The change came in "just the blink of an eye," he said. "Usually, pretty much nothing happens in healthcare in four years."
Mostashari added, "We’ve made a lot of progress, as a country, and it is a testament to how much hard work can accomplish. There are some daunting tasks ahead, but not harder than we’ve come already."