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Mostashari: 'Stars Are Aligned'

April 13, 2011
by David Raths
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New leader wants ONC to do a better job of communicating health IT agenda

On April 13, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., led off the first meeting of the federal Health IT Policy Committee since he was named national coordinator for health IT by saying it is an “incredibly exciting time” and that “the stars are aligned” between health IT efforts and the national focus on improving quality, safety, and payment methods through care coordination. “This creates an opportunity for health delivery system transformation that is unprecedented,” he said.

Mostashari started the meeting by praising the work of his predecessor, David Blumenthal, M.D., who led the office for two years. “He is a tough act to follow. He has unique skills that have moved us to the next level. I am not David Blumenthal,” he said,“but I will do my best to continue the approach to policymaking that is inclusive, open, and transparent.”

Mostashari joined ONC in July 2009. Previously he served at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as Assistant Commissioner for the Primary Care Information Project, where he facilitated the adoption of health IT by more than 1,500 providers in underserved communities.

Mostashari said he thought ONC has done a great job of listening to stakeholders, but he wants it to do a better job in the future of communicating what the health IT agenda means to providers and consumers. He said ONC would also focus on tapping into the innovation and energy of the private sector and understand better what is happening in the market.

He said ONC also would pay more attention to the consumer e-health market, noting that the growth of electronic data creates the potential for disruptive innovation in consumer health applications.

The progress ONC has made so far will allow for a greater focus on outcomes, he said. “That was always what we wanted to achieve in the future,” he said, “and the future is closer now than it was two years ago.”

Mostashari also announced that Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., Maryland’s Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, has joined the Health IT Policy Committee. Sharfstein previously served as principal deputy commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and also served as Baltimore City health commissioner.

Dr. Mostashari will be the opening keynote speaker at the HCI Executive Summit, to be held May 11-13, 2011, in San Francisco, Calif. ( ).