Mostashari draws quality into IT discussion

Quality is the cornerstone of what needs to be done in U.S. healthcare, Farzad Mostashari, MD, the nation’s health IT chief, emphasized as he addressed a meeting of the National Quality Forum April 26 in Washington. Mostashari added that rapid healthcare IT adoption will help put the patient at the center of health-improvement initiatives.

"When Congress wrote HITECH Act, they didn’t micromanage what meaningful use would mean. But they did say, three things needed to be included, and one of them was quality measures," Mostashari explained.

Mostashari added that the adoption rate of health IT over the past few years has been “astounding” and it signals a tipping point. He expects adoption to continue forward at a rapid pace. “In 2016, it’s going to be the rare to find a doctor without EHRs,” he said.

Good ideas can come from people in the field, and contributions from industry leaders are imperative, Mostashari noted. He recalled a time when he wanted to contribute to the national discussion, “but there was no way in.”

“We need the bright lights and the perspective and the collaboration because we can’t do it alone,” he told attendees. “The goal of today is to find people who’ve done it, who understand deeply what it takes and not just the challenges but how to overcome those challenges.”

In addition to collaboration, Mostashari named other major principles for continuing on a path toward improving the quality of care:

  • Keep our eyes on the prize. “We need to focus on what matters. You start with questions like what kills the most people, and how can we improve to save more premature deaths. It’s astounding how few quality measures we actually have that get to that. It’s because we took our eye off the ball, Mostashari said.
  • Use the market. “We are a country that believes in the market,” he said. “We are motivated by profit and there’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it needs to be channeled. We embrace how capitalism works. But it doesn’t mean that it’s a game where the odds are rigged. We need to make sure there’s transparency.”
  • Watch out for the little guy. There’s a lot of work that’s already been done, Mostashari noted. “The smartest people in the world get in a room and they build things only the smartest people in the world understand.” The solution? “Simpler is better.”
  • Put patients at the center. We should talk about this as an independent goal, he said. “It’s about the patient, too. We’re playing catch-up on that right now.” Providers should ask themselves if their patients are satisfied with the care they have received. “If the patient doesn’t feel that their care was coordinated, you know what? It wasn’t coordinated.”


Mostashari said sticking to the principles he outlined will help the healthcare industry reach its goals. He encouraged stakeholders to fight against “the wall of disbelief” that healthcare can’t change. “I’m here to tell you that that wall is paper-thin,” he said. “Payment reform is here, and it’s not going away. “

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