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ONC's Mostashari: "The Bottom Line Is, It's About What's Right For the Patient"

August 24, 2012
by Mark Hagland
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In a webinar held one day after the release of the Stage 2 final rule for meaningful use, Dr. Mostashari urges the industry forward

In an Aug. 24 webinar cosponsored by the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC), a Washington, D.C.-based public-private partnership focused on “secure and interoperable nationwide health information exchange,” and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Farzad Mostashari, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, spoke passionately of the path along which his agency is trying to compel providers forward, just one day after ONC had released the final rule for Stage 2 meaningful use requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act/Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (ARRA-HITECH) Act. (For details on some of the key changes and innovations in the final rule, please see HCI Senior Contributing Editor David Raths’ analysis).

As the first presenter at the webinar, titled, “How to Play by the (Final) Rules: An Overview of Meaningful Use Stage 2 & the Standards and Certification Criteria Final Rules,” Dr. Mostashari spoke with particular fervor about several issues, including his agency’s desire to promote patients’ access to their health information, and clinicians’ ability to appropriately share that information, across settings of care, as expressed in the electronic exchange of summary of care documents requirements, the requirements around patients’ online access to their health records and around secure messaging between providers and patients, and the ready exchange of lab results reporting across settings of care. “The goal here is that information follows the patient regardless of organizational, geographic, or vendor boundaries,” he stated firmly.

Farzad Mostashari, M.D.

“Thus,” Mostashari said, “the requirement for 10 percent of information be available for electronic download” under the Stage 2 final rule. “ We kept the 10 percent threshold, that 10 percent of transitions of care must be accompanied by an electronic transition of care document,” he said. “We made it clear that walls go against our philosophy” of leveraging the meaningful use requirements to break down barriers in communication that have hampered the optimization of care delivery and quality, he added.

Mostashari also spoke of the ONC’s determination to push EHR vendors towards greater interoperability, saying, “I want more rigorous testing and increased quality measures. Interoperability is important.”

And, referring specifically to the menu objective around lab results reporting for hospitals, Dr. Mostashari said, “Including the menu item for outpatient lab results delivery will go a long way to making sure that providers have timely information” in that critical area.

“I want there to be no question about the seriousness of our intent on this issue,” Mostashari said, in moving towards the conclusion of his remarks. “The bottom line is, it’s about what’s right for the patient, and our goal as a country to get to better health, better healthcare, and lower costs.”

Mostashari was followed in his remarks by Rob Anthony of the Office of eHealth Standards and Services at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Steve Posnack, director of the Federal Policy Division at ONC. Both Anthony and Posnack delved into the details of some of the areas of requirements under the Stage 2 final rule.