Thank you, Farzad
Editor's note: On Aug. 6, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Farzad Mostashari, MD, announced he would step down from the ONC post this fall. Praise for Mostashari, came pouring in. John Halamka, MD, worked with Mostashari on health IT standards and other issues. Here is what Halamka wrote on his Aug. 6 blog.
This morning, National HIT Coordinator Farzad Mostashari resigned. His letter to ONC staff was profound.
As I read it, I felt a lump in my throat. He will be missed.
How much do I respect him? I have not worn a tie since Y2K, except for a bow tie last year in honor of Farzad.
I started working with Farzad when he served at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as Assistant Commissioner for the Primary Care Information Project. I was an early champion of eClinicalWorks and Farzad unilaterally transformed that product from a good EHR to a population health tool.
As Deputy National Coordinator he brought operational rigor and a public health perspective to ONC. As National Coordinator he brought energy, enthusiasm, and momentum to healthcare IT. He inspired, challenged, and influenced with informal authority, never a heavy hand. Hundreds of people volunteered to support his vision out of respect for his ideas and a sense that it was the right thing to do. Some people seek fame and fortune. Some just want to make the world a better place. In all the years I've worked with Farzad, I've never sensed any self-interest. He has been mission driven.
Washington is a hard place to work. Some say that no one is your friend (except your dog). Hours are long, pay is poor, and travel is overwhelming. Burn out is hard to avoid when you've cleaned the Augean Stables and your only feedback is that you missed a spot.
Each of the national coordinators had a different style. David Brailer had the strong opinions that were necessary to establish a new federal office. Rob Kolodner led early technology efforts at time when the Bush administration offered limited funding for healthcare IT. David Blumenthal served as a noble statesman painting a vision for the HITECH program. Farzad was the implementer who turned the HITECH vision into policy outcomes by pure strength of will.
I believe Farzad will serve until the end of September. I'll do whatever I can to solidify the trajectory over the next two months so that the cadence of Farzad's strategic plan seamlessly transitions to the next national coordinator.
John Halamka, MD, is CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network, co-chair of the HIT Standards Committee, a full professor at Harvard Medical School and a practicing emergency physician.