Citizen Mostashari reflects on service to (and exit from) federal government

In his first public address since stepping down as National Coordinator for Health IT, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., delivered a relatively subdued speech to attendees at the annual CHIME CIO forum in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Wednesday evening.

Mostashari described his final days in the ONC offices, all but shuttered by the government shutdown, outlined several things that worry him about the healthcare system and healthcare technology and answered audience questions, including one about--what else?--the likelihood that Meaningful Use Stage 2 will be delayed. (The upshot: It won't, but there's still room for flexibility, he said.)

Mostashari, who will join Brookings' Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform as a visiting fellow, opened by reflecting on his time at the Office of the National Coordinator.

"Despite all of the difficulty of working within the government, I wouldn't have exchanged it for anything," he said. "It's really an unusual honor to be able to work on behalf of a nation. A nation as diverse, as varied, as creative, as large as ours.

"When you're able to serve you tend to feel, however small, that you were a part of a movement. That's a very special thing and I'll cherish that for the rest of my life."

He also reflected on the odd timing of his departure from government service.

"It's been kind of strange these past few days," he told the audience. "I was at the office in D.C. on Friday, cleaning things out and leaving little notes for whoever the next national coordinator will be. And there was no one to turn in my badge to."

The CHIME board of trustees also awarded Mostashari the organization's "Legacy Award" for his service to health IT.

Stay tuned for full coverage of Mostashari's CHIME13 address tomorrow on and in the daily FierceHealthIT newsletter. 

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