Mostashari ends tenure at ONC, but not without an exchange about EHR interoperability

August 7, 2013

In one week Farzad Mostashari, MD, twice made national news. He announced his unanticipated departure as national coordinator for Health Information Technology (HIT) this fall, and he authored new research in Health Affairs showing that the exchange of health information jumped 41 percent.

In one week, Farzad Mostashari, MD, twice made national news.

He announced his unanticipated departure as national coordinator for Health Information Technology (HIT) for Health and Human Services this fall, and he authored new research in Health Affairs showing that the exchange of health information jumped 41 percent between 2008 and 2012. Mostashari joined ONC in 2009.

And while healthcare groups issued statements lauding Mostashari’s service and his “tireless pursuit” of electronic health record (EHR) adoption and use, perhaps this new report is a kind of fitting requiem for his service as national coordinator of ONC.

The research indicates that six in 10 hospitals actively exchanged electronic health information with physicians and hospitals outside their organizations in 2012, ONC reports.

“Stage 2 Meaningful Use, which requires eligible hospitals to exchange with outside organizations using different EHR systems and share summary of care records during transitions of care, can help accelerate hospital use of HIE as a means to enhance care quality and safety,” the agency adds.

“We know that the exchange of health information is integral to the ongoing efforts to transform the nation’s health care system,” Mostashari said in a prepared statement, “and we will continue to see that grow as more hospitals and other providers adopt and use health IT to improve patient health and care.”

Highlights of the new study also show:

  • 58 percent of hospitals exchanged data with providers outside their organization in 2012 and hospitals’ exchanges with other hospitals outside their organization more than doubled during the study period.

  • Hospitals with basic EHR systems and participating in HIOs had the highest rates of hospital exchange activity in 2012, regardless of the organizational affiliation of the provider exchanging data or the type of clinical information exchanged.

  • The proportion of hospitals that adopted at least a basic EHR and participated in an HIO grew more than fivefold from 2008 to 2012.

  • Between 2008 and 2012, there were significant increases in the percent of hospitals exchanging radiology reports, laboratory results, clinical care summaries, and medication lists with hospitals and providers outside of their organization.

  • 84 percent of hospitals that adopted an EHR and participated in a regional HIO exchanged information with providers outside their organization.

One area that the research found needs more attention is that of care summaries and medication lists. The research found that only about one-third of hospitals exchanged clinical care summaries or medication lists with outside providers, ONC reports.