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National coordinator of health IT at HHS to step down

Posted 8/12/13

WASHINGTON – Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the national coordinator of Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the last four years, is leaving in the fall, according to government officials.

Under Mostashari’s leadership, the federal government has invested heavily in the development of electronic health records implementation

Electonic health records are a tool, the bottom floor on creating standards to move from mere billing and data collection to a platform to change the way health care is delivered, the way it is paid for, and the manner in which patients are engaged, Mostashari told journalists at a conference in March in Boston.

Mostashari said that the current health care system was broken. “We don’t have a system to apply the stuff we already know,” he said, endorsing the need for the infrastructure investment. “You have to begin with a floor, not a ceiling.”

Mostashari’s optimistic view of EHR implementation was challenged at the conference by Stephen Soumerai, professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Soumerai said that the government’s investment of $1.6 trillion [by Soumerai’s calculation] in building the health IT infrastructure was unsupported by any research evidence that it will actually create the predicted return on investment.

Soumerai cited the recent Rand Corporation study that such projected cost savings would not occur. The investment was being made without any evidence that changes in delivery, outcomes, quality and cost savings can be achieved, Soumerai said.

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