On Tuesday, August 8, 2013, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, health information technology coordinator for the Obama Administration, announced that he will soon be stepping down from his position. This will leave a very important gap in the team needed to move the digital record keeping aspect of the country’s changing healthcare practices forward. Mostashari issued his announcement in the form of a letter to his colleagues, which Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued as an email, and then confirmed the news through his Twitter account.
A former public health official for New York city, Mostashari was well qualified for the position, which he held for four years prior to his announcement. Officially titled the chief of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (HIT), the seat was developed by President George W. Bush, under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services. Mostashari was the fourth to hold this esteemed position, which is becoming increasingly important as the country pushes to update its inefficient medical records storage and sharing systems while creating more Health IT jobs.
As Sebelius stated in her mass email, Mostashari was “at the forefront of the designing and implementing a number of initiatives to promote the adoption of Health IT among healthcare providers.” Additionally, he was integral to bridging the gap between the healthcare goals of the public and the healthcare industry’s medical record transmission practices. According to Sebelius, Mostashari made a habit of “ensuring the ultimate focus remains on the patients and their families,” even while stabilizing the logistical structure laying the new framework for a medical records sharing system that will ultimately be interoperable between the mass network of United States healthcare-related entities. While the future handling of Mostashari’s initiative is still uncertain, there is no question that whoever steps into his place will have some very big shoes to fill.
This is still a developing story and, as of now, Mostashari does not give any clear reasons as to why he’s making the decision to resign, a move which is slated to happen this very fall. Although in his letter, Mostashari assured his colleagues that he would continue alongside them in the battle for improved healthcare practices, he also asserted that he didn’t yet know what he would be pursuing after the leave. Furthermore, reports are currently circulating that Mostashari will be leaving the public service sector altogether. The details of Mostashari’s shocking and unexpected withdrawal from the ONC HIT seat will no doubt come together as the story continues to unfold.