Farzad Mostashari, the national coordinator for health IT at Health and Human Services, will step down from his position this fall after two years driving Meaningful Use regulations aimed at lowering health costs and providing better care via the electronic health record systems providers have implemented.
Mostashari joined the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) in 2009 as principal deputy national coordinator and took over as national coordinator in 2011. Much of his tenure as national coordinator focused on Meaningful Use standards and the adoption of electronic health records.
None of the last three national coordinators spent more than two years at the post.
Mostashari's successor is facing a fragmented industry where sharing data among healthcare providers remains a big challenge, one that health IT leaders say will take a regulatory spark to fix.
Providers also are complaining that they're spending too much time meeting regulatory requirements and not enough time finding creative ways to make better use of EHRs. Mostashari's successor will be expected to transition into Meaningful Use stage 2 requirements for EHRs in 2014 on a timeline that some say is already too aggressive. MU stage 2 criteria include a more rigorous health information exchange and a focus on patient-controlled data.
In a letter to ONC staff, Mostashari said he doesn't know what his next move will be.
"There are formidable challenges still ahead for our community, and for ONC," he said. "But none more difficult than what we have already accomplished."
In a letter announcing the move, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised Mostashari for having "seen through the successful design and implementation of ONC's HITECH programs, which provide health IT training and guidance to communities and providers; linked the meaningful use of electronic health records to population health goals; and laid a strong foundation for increasing the interoperability of health records."