Dr. Farzad Mostashari took over as the national coordinator for health IT a year ago, picking up where Dr. David Blumenthal left off after serving in that role for two years. Mostashari was well positioned to take on the top federal health IT job, having been deputy national coordinator for programs and policy since July 2009.
Mostashari has spent the last year overseeing the execution of Meaningful Use Stage 1 and other HITECH Act programs. He also oversees the drafting of the next two stages of the Meaningful Use program.
Prior to coming to ONC, Mostashari led the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Primary Care Information Project, which worked to get more than 1,500 healthcare providers to use technology to improve preventive care in underserved neighborhoods. Working so closely with healthcare providers, Mostashari said, helped him understand the challenges they face in deploying health IT. The most important thing he learned in New York is that it was "going to be a continued process, with providers getting better and better and better," he said. He's now applying that approach on the national stage.
As of February 2012, 211,500 providers had registered to participate in the Meaningful Use program, with a total of $3.8 billion in incentive money already paid to Medicare and Medicaid providers. The progress so far has been "nothing short of breathtaking," he said.
Now the challenge is to get clinicians to use the systems. Providers face daily struggles in using IT efficiently and in meaningful ways, Mostashari said. The market will help, he adds. In the next few years, we should see vendors making health IT systems easier and more intuitive and efficient.