It was billed as a town hall meeting with Dr. Farzad Mostashari, but the head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS turned the standing-room-only gathering at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society convention in Las Vegas into a “get-acquainted session” with leaders of the ONC and CMS staffs.
Meeting becomes 'get-acquainted session'
Mostashari was joined on the dais Tuesday by a half-dozen ONC department heads.
He called on a roughly equal number of government workers up from the audience, giving them recognition or asking them to explain their activities, ranging from policy development and coordination with multiple federal agencies to oversight of programs established and funded by ONC directly, such the community college consortia for health IT workforce development.
“The ONC is a relatively small operation,” Mostashari said, noting there are fewer staff members at the ONC than there are at its northern counterpart, Canada Health Infoway.
During an extended question-and-answer period with the audience, a man who identified himself as a physician from Chicago asked whether the ONC has considered adding to its certification criteria for electronic health records the requirement that vendors provide application programming interfaces, or APIs, to their systems so “we won't have to pay for interfaces?”
“The short answer to your question is, it's a great idea,” Mostashari said. And while ONC is “not real close” to adding the requirement to its certification criteria, “It's something we're looking ahead to,” he said.
Another audience member said there are “way too many” health information exchanges and they are too expensive. He asked whether the government has ever considered “having its own health information exchange.”
“Capitalism is messy, but it's the system we chose,” Mostashari said. “I don't think you want us to purchase an HIE,” he said.
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