Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thank You Farzad

This morning, National HIT Coordinator Farzad Mostashari resigned.   His letter to ONC staff was profound.   As I read it, I felt a lump in my throat.   He will be missed.

How much do I respect him?   I have not worn a tie since Y2K, except for a bow tie last year in honor of Farzad.

I started working with Farzad when he served at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as Assistant Commissioner for the Primary Care Information Project.   I was an early champion of eClinicalWorks and Farzad unilaterally transformed that product from a good EHR to a population health tool.

As Deputy National Coordinator he brought operational rigor and a public health perspective to ONC.

As National Coordinator he brought energy, enthusiasm, and momentum to healthcare IT.  He inspired, challenged, and influenced with informal authority, never a heavy hand.   Hundreds of people volunteered to support his vision out of respect for his ideas and a sense that it was the right thing to do.

Some people seek fame and fortune.   Some just want to make the world a better place.   In all the years I've worked with Farzad, I've never sensed any self-interest.   He has been mission driven.

Washington is a hard place to work.   Some say that no one is your friend (except your dog).    Hours are long, pay is poor, and travel is overwhelming.   Burn out is hard to avoid when you've cleaned the Augean Stables and your only feedback is that you missed a spot.

Each of the national coordinators had a different style.   David Brailer had the strong opinions that were necessary to establish a new federal office.   Rob Kolodner led early technology efforts at time when the Bush administration offered limited funding for healthcare IT.   David Blumenthal served as a noble statesman painting a vision for the HITECH program.   Farzad was the implementer who turned the HITECH vision into policy outcomes by pure strength of will.

I believe Farzad will serve until the end of September.   I'll do whatever I can to solidify the trajectory over the next two months so that the cadence of Farzad's strategic plan seamlessly transitions to the next national coordinator.


John said...

I couldn't agree more. He has made HIT a better place.


Sharon Wentz, RN said...

Great photo and a wonderful tribute. Dr. Mostashari has delivered his vision and now it will be time for someone else to pick up the torch. This effort could benefit from some female leadership as we all contribute our small piece for the greater good of health information exchange.

Unknown said...

Very nice tribute to a strong, inspired, and inspiring leader who never wavered in "Keeping our eyes on the prize." The rapid and widespread adoption and use of health information technology that we are witnessing today had been anticipated for decades -- but it took strong, passionate, and persistent leadership that recognized the power of public-private collaboration to make it happen. Thank you, Farzad!

Ross Martin said...

Great post, John and a fitting commentary on the tireless leadership that Farzad has provided.

I've seen some comments with folks speculating how Farzad will "cash in" on his position in government - by consulting, lobbying or serving on boards. I suppose he could do any of those things and he would deserve the financial rewards that he reaps. But I suspect that he will continue pursuing his mission-focused work in another capacity. I hope he takes a nice break -- and a long bike ride -- and comes back doing with the same passion.

Dixie Baker said...

Hi John. This is "Unknown." (I've now updated my profile.) I want to take attribution for my response to your tribute to Farzad.