Mostashari: Government should play booster role in health IT innovation

The government is no longer the main source of health IT innovation, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., the national coordinator for health information technology, told the Boston Globe earlier this week.

But it can--and should--play a supportive role, he told the Globe before delivering a speech at the Health 2.0 conference  in Boston this week.

"The investments in research and development that are going on in the consumer technology space are now dwarfing the investment and innovation that are happening in, say, the military," he said.

In the article, he talks about five ways the government can encourage innovation in healthcare. Among them:

  • Lend support to old-fashioned research and development. Mostashari pointed to the Smart Project at Children's Hospital Boston, which aims to make it easier to transfer data between different medical apps and programs, as an example. Funding such research is a basic province of government, he said.
  • Provide data--and more data. The government's awash in data; it's just a matter of making better use of it. President Obama's $200 million Big Data initiative is just one example.
  • Promote competition. The Office of the National Coordinator supports developer challenges or projects, the latest of which is creating technology to integrate ophthalmologists' imaging tools and databases with an electronic health record. And the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency just sent out a call for developers to create a portable dialysis tool to remove toxic substances from the blood of soldiers in combat, reports

Mostashari concedes that for the government to be successful, much depends on establishing workable standards and rules, which is a messy process, as FierceHealthIT has reported. "There's still a lot of work to be done," Mostashari said (in what can only be described as an understatement).

To learn more:
- read the Boston Globe article
- check out the Smart Project at Children's Hospital Boston
- read more about the Ocular Imaging Challenge
- read the article.

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