Healthcare Business News
Dr. Farzad Mostashari, head of the ONC

Leadership key to IT push now: Mostashari

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: December 6, 2012 - 10:45 am ET

Barriers to health information technology adoption by providers today center more around practice leadership than financial challenges, according to the head of HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Dr. Farzad Mostashari noted Wednesday that 83% of U.S. hospitals and about 62% of all eligible professionals have registered for the federal government's electronic health-record incentive payment program through November.

Addressing the National Transitions of Care Coalition, Mostashari said that of those, about 65% of hospitals and 31% of eligible professionals have received payment. To date, the federal government has paid about $9.2 billion in the EHR incentive program, up from about $8.4 billion reported in October, according to preliminary numbers from the CMS (PPT).

Now the big challenge for the program is less about financial concerns and more about how providers can make the federal EHR program effective.

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“The financial barriers—while they are still there for some providers and some practices—have largely been removed,” Mostashari said in an interview. “It doesn't mean there are no barriers left. But the barriers now are around practice leadership. It's around workflow. It's around getting the vendors to be able to do things in a meaningful way, not just checking the box.”

And that requires a change in thinking that Mostashari said moves away from providers asking the question, “What do I need to do?” to “Why am I doing this?” To begin, he recommended that providers concentrate on one particular area that they want to improve and track for their patients. Then they should apply what he called the “machinery” of the EHR and meaningful-use requirements to make “tangible, measurable and demonstrable” improvements in that area.

“Really embrace meaningful use as not just one more thing that you're doing, but actually the foundation for doing the physician leadership, the executive leadership to say: We need to be better, we need to change, we need to be able to keep track of all of our patients; we need to know our quality measures and improve them,” he continued. “So use meaningful use as an opportunity.”

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