Mostashari urges docs to focus on making IT tools meaningful

Doctors struggling with the federal mandates to implement healthcare technology and the push to evidence-based medicine should focus on things they can control, rather than things they can't, outgoing ONC Chief Farzad Mostashari suggested in an interview with Medscape.

"Meaningful use ... is a tool. Take that certification, take that decision support, take that quality measurement … take the tools and make them meaningful. Help your staff make the tools meaningful. … lean forward and lean into it," he told interviewer Eric Topol, M.D., editor-in-chief of Medscape and director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute.

Mostashari will be leaving his post as national coordinator for health IT this fall. 

He's been at the ONC office for four years and headed it for two. FierceEMR's Marla Durben Hirsch recently praised his many accomplishments during those years.

Mostashari told Topol the job is intense, but the progress the department has made makes this the right time to depart.

Topol asked Mostashari for an example of a really big health IT idea.

"The dream is that with every encounter [you have with a patient], you know everything about the patient. You know everything about any medical knowledge that has ever been generated and you know everything about what is happening right now in the community where we are. Because the treatment for a sore throat is going to be different in January with the flu epidemic than it is going to be in September when asthma is peaking," he said.

"Whatever you do generates and goes back to teaching everybody else what is going on in the community, what is going on in medicine, and contributes to this patient's knowledge. Right now my visit doesn't even contribute to my next visit."

The biggest barrier to making that happen, he said, is the belief that healthcare can't change.

In his farewell to the Health Information Technology Policy Committee this week, Mostashari emphasized the need to view adoption of health IT as an ongoing process and a means to an end, rather than the end itself, EHR Intelligence reports.

To learn more:
- read the Medscape interview
- here's the EHR Intelligence article

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