Meet Farzad Mostashari—the nation's new health IT coordinator

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has named Farzad Mostashari as national coordinator for health IT to replace outgoing head David Blumenthal, Health Data Management reports.

In February, Blumenthal announced he would resign in the spring and return to his tenured faculty position at Harvard Medical School. President Obama appointed Blumenthal in March 2009 to head the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and advance federal health IT initiatives.


Mostashari's appointment was effective April 8. He joined ONC in 2009 as the deputy national coordinator for programs and policy.

Mostashari completed graduate training at the Harvard School of Public Health and Yale Medical School. He is a recognized expert on disease outbreak investigation and using electronic tools for disease surveillance, according to Health Data Management. Mostashari was one of the first developers of real-time electronic disease surveillance systems in the country, according to ONC.

Prior to joining ONC, Mostashari served as assistant commissioner for the New York City Health and Mental Hygiene Department's primary care information project. Mostashari also established the agency's bureau of epidemiology services. While at the department, Mostashari helped more than 1,500 health care providers in underserved communities adopt prevention-oriented health IT tools, Healthcare IT News reports. He also led the CDC-funded NYC Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics.

John Halamka, CIO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, said that Mostashari's "vision for creating decision support systems and data driven quality improvement resulted in improvements to several EHR products and innovations like the PopHealth," Government Health IT notes.

Upcoming challenges

According to Government Health IT, Mostashari will enter a "diplomatic quagmire," as some health industry stakeholders are calling for a delay of Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements, which is currently expected to begin in 2013.

However, the director of the CMS Office of e-Health Standards, which is co-writing meaningful use regulations with the ONC, has stated that Stage 2 will not be delayed (Manos, Government Health IT, 4/11; Goedert, Health Data Management, 4/8; LaFave Grace, Modern Healthcare, 4/8 [subscription required]; Manos,Healthcare IT News, 4/8).  

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