It’s another turn on the journey to the meaningful use of certified EHR technology with Dr. Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, announcing his resignation from his position as the head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) this week.
In his letter to fellow ONC staff, he referred to the patient experience that he shared with his mother both during and following her hospital stay. This has always been an important convergence that is still evolving in the healthcare experience for all of us: accessible data and the patient experience.
Dr. Mostashari reflected on the challenge that he faced from day one of his position of leadership with the ONC, working backward from the outcomes they aspired to enable through the EHR Incentive Programs. The challenges are ongoing today, but not because of a lack of effort by Dr. Mostashari or the ONC. It has been an important impetus for encouraging a dialogue within the clinic about moving toward using data more intelligently and engaging people throughout the process of care.
It’s important to keep in mind that meaningful use really just sets a baseline for expectations of EHR use in the clinic. Despite the progress, structured data within the healthcare experience remains a challenge. While the structure has significant value when combining data sets from distinct healthcare organizations, there is more to the story in each patient experience, particularly in the form of that free text.
Achieving meaningful use in the clinic signifies that sharing data within a continuum of care among providers and with the patient that data represents is critical to improving the healthcare experience. There have been too many experiences where the patient experience has been an open loop of distinct experiences, and the idea of coordination for many people sitting in the clinic has been a foreign concept.
From the EHR certification program to the ongoing discussions about the next stages of meaningful use, the EHR Incentive Programs serve as an important kick-start for moving past the passive view of EHR and health IT adoption all too often found within the clinic. The pursuit of meaningful use in the clinic today or going forward in subsequent stages does not have to be part of a separate conversation in the clinic about empowering staff or patients to make better choices with better information.
Dr. Mostashari was recognizable by his bowties. Perhaps in a subtle way his bowties represent a nostalgic view of fashion and also a similar view of the patient experience when the physician knew each patient by name. The deeper conversation of what it means to meaningfully use EHR within the clinic is an individual one that must happen between physicians and their staff with the EHR Incentive Programs serving as the foundation.
Robert Green is the author of Community Healthcare: Finding a Common Ground with New Expectations in Healthcare. Through his physician client relationships, Bob has gained substantial insight regarding the daily challenges that medical professionals and their staffs face, such as regulatory issues, financial management, and clinical collaboration through the use of health IT. His process of making both interpersonal and purposeful connections within the organization results in improved employee performance and confidence and enhanced client experience.