Mostashari wants minimum govt. role in health IT

Farzad Mostashari, MD, in his first official public presentation as national coordinator of health IT outside of chairing internal committee meetings, acknowledged that the country--in terms of healthcare IT--is moving into an "intense phase of implementation" as initiatives supporting EHR adoption and Meaningful Use move into action.

"To some, it's a daunting place to be, but I'm thrilled. I feel we've made some great progress," he said in a speech before the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington on Tuesday. "We're hitting our mile markers, but it's a marathon," he said.

But next "we are about to catch that virtuous cycle" where health IT complements other healthcare goals, he said. It's already being seen in some places such as the announcement earlier this month of the Department of Health and Human Services' Partnership for Patients initiative targeting a reduction in readmissions and healthcare-acquired infections.

"You cannot possibly achieve those goals without having the underpinnings of health IT. Better information is really what it is all about. And the technology is the tool to accomplish that," said Mostashari, who replaced outgoing national coordinator David Blumenthal earlier this month.

However, Mostashari does hope to minimize the government's role in getting physicians and hospitals to go paperless, The Hill reports. But, some federal action will be necessary.

To move forward, innovation is needed from industry and the free market, he said. The upfront investment by government to provide billions of dollars in incentives for providers to switch to EHRs has been vital, but the private market will now likely respond to growing demand for systems that protect patients' private records.

"There are many public goods that would not happen without an active role of government," he said. "We have to do the minimum government action necessary--but no less. We have to be aware we don't create government failures in trying to solve market failures."

For more information:
- view the presentation online
- read The Hill blog post
- read the Government Health IT article

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