Mostashari: Paper records are great ... if you're Harry Potter

Health IT coordinator talks to CHIME members about accountable care, national patient identifiers, EMR certification and more

Farzad Mostashari, M.D., always speaks with enthusiasm about health IT, and his address yesterday afternoon to members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives was no exception. Peppered with references to Harry Potter and magical thinking, the National Coordinator for Health IT covered topics ranging from patient safety to accountable care to national patient identifiers.

Here are some of the highlights from his speech, delivered at CHIME's Fall CIO forum in Indian Wells, Calif.:

On the drive for better healthcare at lower cost

"I'm optimistic. I think we're going to do it by tapping into innovation. We're going to create disruptive innovation … evolutionary innovation. And we're going to do it through the one thing known to create reliably faster, better and cheaper [healthcare], which is technology," he said. "The idea that we would bring the same brilliance, the same power, that has transformed everything else and bring that to healthcare."


"Data. Wow! I love data."

Technology is just a tool, he said, but what a tool it is, he added. "Data," he said. "Wow! I Love data."

On paper records

Once you close a paper file it's dead. "You can't use it for anything. You can't move it, you can't learn from it," Mostashari said.

"In a Muggle world, the world we live in, the provider can't go into the room of paper charts and flourish their wand and say 'All the patients with diabetes!' and the charts fly out and hover in the air. 'All those who didn't come back to see me, over here!' Send in an owl. We can't do that on paper. But that is the essence of population health management."