ONC Mission Reflections
By Helen Figge, CPHIMS, FHIMSS
The leadership at ONC will be shifting a bit as Farzad Mostashari and David Muntz return to the private sector, having given the industry another steep dose of healthcare leadership excellence. It has been appreciated for some time now that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) was meant to be a compass to support the adoption of various pieces of health information technology, to promote a unified health information exchange platform, and to improve health care for us all. But any compass needs great leaders to man the ship. Not only leaders with skills to lead, but character traits steeped in ethical and wisdom offering guidance. Farzad and David were those captains that moved us forward with the national healthcare IT efforts through their decency, ability to lead by example, and just a genuine sense of being a very nice person that anyone would want to follow or work side by side with.
Remembering the inception of ONC, where many of us hold this office with high regard and respect, hoping that policies created for our healthcare delivery will minimize medical errors while simultaneously aspiring healthcare stakeholders to share patient information all to improve patient care. Payer and the government had aspirations these ONC programs would save money by improving efficiency.
We can conclude however that not all healthcare providers have fully embraced these technologies, but many of the healthcare providers have indeed done so and successfully thanks to the leadership of the past ONC leaders but now recently these two respected individuals in healthcare IT today.
So as we see these two individuals depart ONC, their legacies have indeed culminated into an ongoing improvement in the delivery of healthcare and leaving their posts having helped and move forward the agenda for us all in healthcare reform.
Farzad, while intelligent was also extremely charismatic helping to catapult the acronym “EHRs” into our daily healthcare conversations. He talked about EHRs like the latest and greatest gadget we all needed to try. David will leave behind a legacy of true collaboration and mentoring others in the healthcare IT landscape where often times it was a language in and of itself. David made healthcare IT logical and worthy of conversation even to those not so tech savvy. David’s ability of being extremely diligent and insightful while creating the conversation around healthcare technology was welcomed by all the non-CIOs as well as his peers in the industry. That is a true leader.
Often times we hear the phrase “it takes a village” to accomplish something. And yes that is quite true, but a true leader of that village, listens, digests, analyzes, and then reacts to a situation. A true leader does not lead by intimidation or dictatorship, but though consensus and character traits of leaving a place better than how it was found. Farzad and David each had their own attributes, but together created a uniform approach to an otherwise confusing state of healthcare affairs. These two individuals leave legacies of offering leadership through example and while their physical presence will be missed, their polices and professional attributes that have created the current ONC landscape will move forward, with another group of leaders who we all hope have the same level of integrity and respect these two have had from the industry at large.
Remember, someone wise once said, “Tthe world is filled with 99 percent followers and 1 percent true leaders”. Farzad and David fit into the 1 percent group quite comfortably.
Helen Figge, CPHIMS, FHIMSS is is VP of clinical integration for Alere ACS.