When Dr. Farzad Mostashari announced this month that he plans to step down in the fall from the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology position at US Department of Health and Human Services, the news inspired two immediate reactions within Get Real Health: sadness at his departure and appreciation for his accomplishments.
“Farzad has been a great leader,” said Robin Wiener, Get Real Health president and founding partner. “While we are sad to see that he is leaving, we take comfort in the fact that he has laid such a solid foundation — both in the HIT industry itself and in the amazing team he has helped cultivate at ONC.”
His leadership skills were evident as he worked with CMS to use a combination of technology standards and financial incentives and payment (via Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements) to push healthcare provider organizations to implement real changes that are resulting in improved patient engagement and increased patient access to their health information.
As a visionary change agent, Farzad has excelled at figuring out the things that government can do — without quashing innovation or being overly prescriptive. He has understood how government can act as a catalyst, relying on industry and various stakeholders to have a voice — and listening intently to what those voices said.
He has used policy and standards to drive interoperability. And he has pushed for concepts that will drive change, such as Blue Button, DIRECT and CCDA — which use standards-based elements of data sharing that make interoperability a reality.
We thank Farzad for his enthusiasm and dedication to the patient. His oft-quoted challenge to the HIT industry — “Give me my data!” — echoes like a veritable call-to-arms through the halls of Get Real Health.
Likewise, his charismatic way of inspiring so many people to embrace patient engagement made an indelible impression on our already patient-centric sensibilities. (Who can forget his good-natured embrace of Regina Holliday’s “The Walking Gallery” and the jacket she created emblazoned with her painting of him?)
Although Farzad will no longer be National Coordinator, we have a hunch he will continue to be a leader in our industry, and we look forward to encountering him anew in the future.