National Coordinators Discuss Meaningful Use, Other Health IT Issues

In an interview published in the journal Health Affairs, National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari said he expects 40% of primary care providers to have a basic electronic health record system in place by the end of this year and 50% to have one in place two years from now, FierceHealthIT reports.

The interview was conducted by David Brailer, who served as the country's first national coordinator for health IT between 2004 and 2006. Mostashari started in the role in April 2011 (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 3/6).

Hospital Executives Prioritizing EHR Efforts

In the interview, Mostashari estimated that about 10% of hospitals would have been able to meet meaningful use requirements in 2009. Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare Incentive payments.

Mostashari said, "we now we have a situation where 90% of hospital chief information officers say that achieving meaningful use standards is one of their top two priorities for the next couple of years" (Brailer, Health Affairs, March 2012).

Focusing on EHR Adoption

According to Mostashari, the meaningful use program focuses on the adoption and use of EHR systems, not just the systems themselves.

He said, "The analogy that I like to use is we're not just learning how to play the piano, and we're certainly not doing the equivalent of just paying people to have pianos. We're paying them to be able to play the pianos and make music in a larger orchestra that has to learn to play together" (FierceHealthIT, 3/6).

Building Patient Trust Around Health IT

When Brailer asked about efforts to build public trust around health IT, Mostashari said the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the health care industry "together need to help the public understand what health IT means to them and how it is going to affect them."

He added that consumers will need to understand the benefits of EHR systems and will "have to trust the [doctor] or hospital to maintain the privacy and security of the information."

Efforts To Bolster Health IT Workforce

When asked about the demand for health IT workers, Mostashari said that health care providers are "looking for qualified, competent professionals who can help with this transition" from paper records to EHR systems.

He added that there is a "need for both retraining and retaining" current health IT workers, as well as a need for recruiting "people who may be in the health field but not in health IT, or in the IT field but not in health, and getting them the skills they need to contribute" (Health Affairs, 3/6).

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